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Remains of man missing for 7 months in Yellow Medicine County identified

GRANITE FALLS -- The skeletal remains discovered Saturday in rural Granite Falls have been identified as those of Eric Santiago Martinez Solorzano.

Yellow Medicine County Sheriff Bill Flaten said Tuesday the Midwest Medical Examiner in Ramsey confirmed the identity through dental records. Solorzano, 27, was reported missing April 2 after he was believed to have left a car and walked toward flooded ditches along U.S. Highway 212 bet-ween Granite Falls and Montevideo.

Flaten said law enforcement personnel and firefighters conducted several extensive searches of the area following Solorzano's disappearance. The fast-moving current and high waters prevented searchers from discovering the body.

Law officers also conducted subsequent searches as floodwaters receded through the summer. The high waters remained well into the summer.

Jim Aus of Granite Falls was scouting land Saturday near his mother's rural property west of Granite Falls in preparation for deer hunting season when he discovered the remains. He called the Sheriff's Office around 4:30 p.m. Saturday to report what he believed to be human skeletal remains in a wildlife management area approximately 5 miles northwest of Granite Falls on U.S. Highway 212.

The entire skeleton and a pair of shoes were recovered at the site.

The Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's Office and state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension collected the remains and transported them to the medical examiner.

The area where the remains were found had been covered in water well into August.

Flaten said the medical examiner was able to confirm the identity of the remains Tuesday morning, and Flaten immediately contacted the surviving family members. They were relieved that there was some closure, he said.

Solorzano was working at Prairie's Edge Casino Resort and was living in Granite Falls at the time of his disappearance.

His sister, Yesenia Rios, reported his disappearance back in April. She had received a mobile phone call from him. According to initial reports, Rios said her brother told her he had gotten out of a car following an argument that night while returning to Granite Falls from Montevideo.

Flaten said the investigation remains open pending final autopsy results.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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