By Marice Richter
DALLAS (Reuters) - Human remains discovered in a creek in a wooded area south of Dallas are those of a missing 10-year-old boy who police say apparently was starved to death by his parents, a local official said on Wednesday.
Ellis County Justice of the Peace Bill Woody said a report from the Dallas County medical examiner's office indicates that the remains are those of Johnathan Ramsey.
Police began searching for the boy in March after arresting his father and stepmother in connection with the boy's disappearance. The boy would have turned 11 in November; it is not clear when exactly he disappeared.
The medical examiner's report says the determination that the body was Johnathan Ramsey was made "based on circumstances" in the case, Woody said on Wednesday. He said the medical examiner's report listed the cause of death as homicide.
However, Dallas police issued a statement saying the medical examiner's office has not identified the remains.
"A positive identification could take a few weeks since DNA testing is required," said Lieutenant Scott Walton of the Dallas Police Department.
A search for the boy began on March 30, when the boy's grandfather Edward Ramsey reported him missing, police said.
Police arrested the boy's father, Aaron Ramsey, 34, and his stepmother, Elizabeth Ramsey, 31, on a charge of injury to a child in connection with Johnathan's disappearance. Both remained in the Dallas County Jail on Wednesday on $500,000 bond.
The two confessed to police that they had punished the boy for punching his pregnant stepmother in the stomach by locking him in a bedroom for months and feeding him mostly bread and water, according to the Dallas Morning News. Police believe he eventually died of starvation in August, the paper reported.
Aaron Ramsey told police his wife was pregnant with triplets at the time and miscarried as a result of Johnathan's behavior, the paper said.
Dallas police, an FBI recovery team and volunteers searched the area in Ellis County where Johnathan's body was dumped and found the remains in an area of the creek that officials had drained over the weekend.
(Editing By Corrie MacLaggan and Eric Beech)