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A box containing partial skeletons of three children was found in a shed behind a house on South 12th Street, and Missoula police detectives are searching for information about the remains.

Missoula police have interviewed the former property manager who lived at the residence where bones and teeth believed to be from three children were found in a shed.

Doug Labare said he reached out to Detective Guy Baker last week and met with him Tuesday afternoon.

Over the summer, police began investigating after a cleaning crew found a box containing teeth and some bones in one of the sheds at a home on the 2100 block of South 12th Street.

Labare said the Missoula detective showed him photos of the box during his interview. He said he didn’t recognize it, but didn’t know whether the box had been among those that had been in the sheds on the property, or if it was put there after he left.

Police wanted to speak with Labare about the home and the box, but have stressed they do not have a suspect in the case.

The teeth and bones were examined and are believed to be those of three children. They have been sent for DNA testing to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification, which runs the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), a division under the Department of Justice.

Missoula police hope the testing will help to determine if the children were related and potentially tie them to an existing missing persons case. Sgt. Travis Welsh, public information officer, said the lab told Missoula police that testing and analysis could take three to six months.

Labare lived in a camper in the backyard of the home for around six years until he was forced to move in the summer of 2016, just over a year before the box was found. He said he had been a friend of Leo “Russ” Kerr, the former owner of the home, and had lived at the property taking care of Kerr for around two and a half years until his death in 2013.

“I was with Russ, holding his hand, the day he died in St. Pat’s,” Labare said.

Kerr grew up in the home, and Labare said to his knowledge it had been in the family for generations. After Kerr’s death, Labare said he stayed at the property, remodeling the house and serving as a property manager for renters who lived there at the behest of Kerr’s son, who lives out of state.

Following a disagreement between himself, the son and the then-tenants in the summer of 2016, a Missoula property management company was brought in to oversee the home and Labare moved his backyard camper elsewhere, he said. During the time he lived on the property, Labare said three different groups of people rented the home.

According to a search warrant, the box containing the teeth and bones was found in one of the sheds after tenants were evicted in September.

Labare said Kerr had been a “hoarder” and two of the sheds were “packed front to back” with boxes of his personal possessions. Labare said that once, at the son’s request, he opened a few boxes at the front of one of the sheds to confirm the contents were Kerr’s belongings, but that the son never came to get any of them. Labare said that when he left the property in the summer of 2016, all of the boxes were still there.

Another of the sheds contained various yard tools and other maintenance equipment, Labare said.

Labare said Baker asked him what he would have done if he had found the box.

“I said I probably would do the same as the guys who did find it. I would be down here talking to you,” Labare said he told the detective.

Labare said Baker also asked him about any connection he may have to Michigan. A Michigan detective has been in touch with Missoula police about the case, interested to know if it potentially could be related to a case in that state where three brothers went missing in November 2010.

Labare said he had been a long-distance truck driver for around three years, but didn’t know if he had ever driven through or worked jobs in Michigan. He said he still had his log books and offered to turn them over to the Missoula police if they wanted them.

Police said Friday they are not aware of any connection to the missing Michigan boys other than that the ages of the boys are similar to what's believed to have been those of the children whose bones and teeth were found. 

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Detective Guy Baker at 406-396-3217.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.