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Body of missing Montana teacher Sherry Arnold believed found

FBI via Reuters

Sherry Arnold

A body found outside of Williston, N.D., is believed to be that of a missing school teacher from Sidney, Mont., officials said Wednesday.

"It is believed the remains are those of Sherry Arnold," the FBI said in a press release, adding that further identification efforts were under way.

Arnold, 43, disappeared Jan. 7 during a morning run. Two men were later arrested.

An FBI team started searching the area on Tuesday and found the body on Wednesday near Williston, which is about 50 miles from Sidney, where Arnold taught high school math.

Two Colorado men were arrested and charged last month with aggravated kidnapping in the case and face a possible death penalty if convicted.

Michael Keith Spell, 22, and Lester Van Waters Jr., 47, pleaded not guilty to one count each of aggravated kidnapping.

Court documents filed by the prosecutor indicate Spell, of Parachute, Colo., has confessed to his role in the crack-fueled abduction and presumed killing of Arnold.

State district Judge Katherine Irigoin set separate trial dates for the two men beginning in July.

Arnold was abducted — apparently at random — while she was jogging. Authorities said Spell told investigators he pulled her into a car and she was choked to death by Waters before they buried her in a shallow grave on a farmstead near Williston.

Spell's father, Harry, told The Associated Press that his son had travelled with Waters to the oil fields of Montana and North Dakota after Waters guaranteed work paying up to $2,000 a week.

Harry Spell said his son was anxious to prove himself to his parents and girlfriend, with whom he has a 1-year-old son.

Williams County Sheriff via AP

Lester Van Waters Jr., left, and Michael Keith Spell.

Michael Spell had found past work in the oil fields near Parachute and on a fire damage cleanup crew, but was unable to keep the jobs "because he didn't quite understand what to do," Harry Spell said.

"He might be 22 years old, but he has an education less than a kindergartner," Harry Spell said.

Spell and Waters are being defended by court-appointed attorneys.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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