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Remains of Dean's brother possibly found in Laos

Presidential hopeful's younger sibling missing since 1974

Remains found in Laos may be those of Charles Dean.
Remains found in Laos may be those of Charles Dean.

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Remains of Howard Dean's brother, who disappeared while traveling in Laos in 1974, may have been found. CNN's Candy Crowley reports (November 18)
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Howard Dean
Charles Dean

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon said Tuesday that human remains have been found in Southeast Asia in a case involving the long-missing brother of Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.

The remains were recovered last week during an excavation in the Bolikhamxai Province of central Laos. They have not been identified.

The candidate's younger brother, Charles Dean, and Australian Neil Sharman were killed in Laos in September 1974, according to a statement from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.

The two were civilians and not associated with Vietnam War-era combat operations going on in the region at the time, the statement said. The remains were to be identified at a lab in Hawaii.

"The personal effects found at the site make us reasonably confident that we have finally located Charlie's remains," Howard Dean said in a written statement Tuesday.

In an article on the Sharman family's reaction to the recovery, Australia's Herald Sun newspaper quoted Sharman's brother Ian as saying the two men had been handcuffed and executed and their bodies thrown into a bomb crater.

The newspaper said the men had been arrested as suspected spies as they traveled along the Mekong River in Laos.

Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor, visited Laos in February 2002 during an investigation that led to the excavation.

In his statement Tuesday, Dean said, "We greet this news with mixed emotions but are gratified that we may now be approaching closure to this painful episode in our lives. We ask that you respect our privacy as we arrange for the transfer, identification and ultimate burial of what we believe are Charlie Dean's remains."

There are 1,875 Americans missing or unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, according to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.

CNN's Paul Courson contributed to this report.

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