09/04/2012 06:44 EDT | Updated 11/04/2012 05:12 EST

Amber Tuccaro Remains Found: Human Skull Find Linked To Missing Woman

Alberta RCMP
LEDUC, Alta. - Alberta Mounties have linked a human skull found south of Edmonton to a woman who disappeared in the area two years ago.

A group of horseback riders discovered the skull Saturday in a wooded area in a field on a rural property near Leduc.

RCMP say dental records were used to identify the remains as belonging to Amber Tuccaro of Fort McMurray. The 20-year-old was visiting the Edmonton area when she was last seen on Aug. 18, 2010.

“This is very sad news for the Tuccaro family, and our thoughts are with them," Staff-Sergeant Gerard MacNeil of Project Kare said Tuesday.

"This discovery brings us closer to finding out what happened to Amber.”

RCMP say the circumstances surrounding her death are suspicious and a ground search of the area is underway. Tuccaro's family do not wish to comment and have asked that their privacy be respected.

Tuccaro lived in Fort McMurray, Alta., and flew to Edmonton International Airport with her then 14-month-old son and a female friend on Aug. 17, 2010.

She booked into a hotel in Nisku near the airport and spent the day in the community.

The next day, Tuccaro left her hotel room to catch a ride into Edmonton and got into an unknown man's vehicle.

"She left Jacob (her son) with her friend to meet with another friend of hers and that was the last time she was seen," MacNeil said.

Her family reported her missing two days later.

In October 2011, police say developments led them to turn the case over to Project Kare, a police team that investigates missing or murdered women.

The team's work has led to at least two successful murder convictions in court.

Last week, investigators hoping to crack the case released an audio recording of an unknown man believed to be driving with Tuccaro the night she was last seen.

MacNeil said there is no connection between the finding of the skull and the release of the audiotape.

"We were very surprised to get the call on Saturday. It's not something we were expecting."

In the 24 hours following the release of the audio on the Project Kare website, the link got more than 6,000 hits, MacNeil said.

He added police also got a "significant" number of tips from it as well.

Police are continuing to search the area for other remains as well as for any evidence that may be there.

"We have an area gridded off and we methodically go through each piece of the grid until we're satisfied and then all the material that is removed from the area is examined," MacNeil said.