APACHE LAKE, AZ - The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office is beginning autopsy proceedings on remains found in the Arizona desert near Apache Lake.
The remains were discovered Sunday by three men who were out target shooting.
"We were lost," said Martin Contreras.
But it seems like fate brought Contreras and his friends to the trail head near Apache Lake.
"We were 100 yards from our truck. It was all desert and bushes. We saw a big blue container," said Contreras.
Curiosity got the best of them.
"We noticed the branches on the top came from somewhere else. My brother thought maybe someone didn't want us to find it," said Contreras.
Inside the container were human remains.
"We didn't know it was human until we saw the hair and the skull. Our hearts dropped," said Contreras.
Sources believe the remains belong to a young female.
The new evidence brings a glimmer of hope to Teresa Moreno
Moreno remembers the day Mikelle Biggs went missing like it was yesterday.
Biggs, an 11-year-old Mesa girl, vanished in 1999 while waiting for the ice cream truck with her sister.
"I remember seeing Mikelle drive by on her bike," said Moreno. And just minutes later she found out the little girl went missing.
Moreno lived two doors down from the Biggs family and helped in the search.
"We started knocking on people's doors," said Moreno.
But eventually friends and family had to say good bye. Police never found a body or the person who took her.
"There is always hope. Hope is always there," said Moreno.
But hope that she is alive could end if the bones found by Contreras belong to Biggs.
"Just to think we found someone's kids. It makes me feel better because they can find closure," said Contreras.
Mesa police originally handled Biggs' missing person’s case.
Officials tell ABC15 they have reached out to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to help with the investigation.