BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- The remains of a North Dakota civilian taken hostage and killed in Iraq nearly three years ago have been recovered along with remains believed to be those of his fiancee, an interpreter for the military, his sister and FBI officials said.
Ronald Schulz's family plans a burial Saturday in Jamestown, a day after his remains are expected to arrive in his hometown.
Schulz's remains and those of the Kurdish woman to whom he was engaged were found by the U.S. military in a grave in September and were turned over to the government, FBI agent E.K. Wilson said Wednesday. He would not say what led the military to the remains.
The Islamic Army in Iraq claimed in December 2005 that it had killed the 40-year-old Schulz, of Eagle River, Alaska. He was working as an electrician when he was kidnapped.
Schulz's sister, Julie, of Jamestown, said Wednesday that U.S. officials notified the family about a month ago that they believed her brother's remains had been recovered, along with those of Susan Bushra, an interpreter for the U.S. military, in Iraq.
Julie Schulz said the FBI confirmed her brother's remains through dental records and DNA provided by family members.
"They were fairly certain it was him before they came to us," Schulz said.
Wilson said Wednesday that Bushra's remains have not been positively identified. Schulz says her brother met Bushra in Iraq.
For the Schulz family, the news brings some sense of closure.
"This is a good thing but a hard thing," Julie Schulz said. "It bothered us for all these years because we were unable to bring him home."
Wilson said the FBI and the military considers the case open.
Family members have said they identified Schulz in two videos from insurgents, one showing a man held hostage and another showing a blindfolded, kneeling man being shot in the back of the head. The second video included Schulz's identification card.
"We knew he was the one in the second video and it was very clear he was dead," Schulz said. "But there was always that doubt when you don't have a body."
A memorial service was held for Schulz in January 2006 in Jamestown. A state judge in April 2006 issued a presumptive death certificate.
Schulz's family has said he was captured in Iraq on or about Nov. 25, 2005. They said he had worked earlier in Iraq as a contractor for more than a year. He and Bushra had planned to return to his home in Alaska.
Schulz graduated from Jamestown High School in 1983, then joined the Marines. His family said he served in the Marine Corps from 1984 to 1991 before moving to Alaska.