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story.lead_photo.caption Little Rock Police Capt. Russell King passes a memorial for Ebby Steppach as he works Tuesday at Chalamont Park in west Little Rock. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

The death of Ebby Steppach, a Little Rock teen who disappeared in 2015, is being investigated as a homicide pending autopsy results, a police spokesman said Thursday.

Steppach's remains were found Tuesday in a drainage pipe at a west Little Rock park, where her car was found days after the Little Rock Central High School senior disappeared in October 2015, police reported on Wednesday.

Lt. Michael Ford, a Little Rock police spokesman, said authorities are investigating her death as a homicide until the agency receives autopsy results from the state Crime Laboratory. At that point, he said, the case would be evaluated.

Steppach's family released a statement through a representative Thursday.

"The case is being investigated as a homicide," according to the statement. "We have no other information at this time."

[TIMELINE: The Ebby Steppach case]

The representative also said that the family hopes the case will raise more awareness to human trafficking.

Steppach's family previously thought that the 18-year-old may have been sold, and Halos Investigations Inc. looked into her disappearance. The nonprofit specializes in finding missing and exploited children.

Steppach's story gained national attention, appearing on The Vanished Podcast, and Dr. Phil. On Thursday, comments and posts expressing condolences and support flooded the social media page her family members created to help find their daughter.

Police said Wednesday that the Crime Lab had identified the remains found at Chalamont Park as Steppach's.

After the remains were identified, her family released a statement thanking investigators and pointing out the light Steppach's case has shed on issues related to human trafficking and missing persons cases.

"Her story has touched many in ways that she could not have ever imagined," the statement read in part.

Key details of her death remain either unclear to authorities or unknown to the public. In late 2016, authorities searched the park, at 20600 Chalamont Drive -- where the remains were found Tuesday. That search did not yield additional clues in the case, police reported.

[IN-DEPTH LOOK: Story, photos, audio on the search for Ebby Steppach]

Steppach's funeral will be Saturday.

Metro on 05/25/2018

Print Headline: Police treat teen's case as homicide

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