A team of investigators from the state and the police departments in Phoenix and Tempe said recent advances in DNA technology made it possible to confirm that the remains were indeed those of Surette Clark, whose death in 1970 had not been reported until 1994.
Surette's stepfather, Wayne Roberts, was convicted in 1996 of killing the child by shaking her at their Phoenix home. She later became ill and died. Authorities contended Roberts panicked and buried the girl in nearby Tempe where the remains were found nine years later.
In the meantime, the Arizona Republic said, Roberts and Surette's mother, moved to Canada. Members of Roberts' family apparently kept quiet about Surette, who had not been reported missing, until 1994 when Roberts' sister told her Canadian therapist about the child's disappearance.
Tempe Police Sgt. Steve Carbajal told the newspaper he was glad to close the books on the case, but that he also had the sad duty of informing other families of missing children in the area that the remains were not those of their loved ones.