MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. -- Three men who went target shooting in the desert near Apache Lake on Sunday made a gruesome discovery -- human remains in a large plastic container.
"My heart just dropped to my stomach," said 27-year-old Chandler resident Martine Contreras, as he described what he found. "I got kids of my own so I would never wish this on nobody."
Contreras was with his younger brother and a friend when the men found the container that was taped shut and stashed deep inside a bush.
When the men opened the container, they were shocked to discover the skeletal remains and clothing of what Contreras said appeared to be a young small female.
"Her sandals were maybe like this big so I'm guessing maybe anywhere from like 9 to 13," explained Contreras. "She might have been pretty small."
The group then notified the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies responded to the scene and confirmed on Monday that the discovery is being investigated as a homicide.
"We're in the very infancy stages of this investigation," said Deputy Joaquin Enriquez with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. "We're treating it as a homicide."
Enriquez would not give any additional details as the medical examiner tries to identify the victim.
Contreras, who lost a brother to violence, hopes the discovery will provide a grieving family with some answers and that the person or people responsible will face justice.
"We were there for a reason," Contreras said. "I think God put us there to find it because we were lost."