06/26/2015 03:46 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Human Remains Possibly Found In Home Of Missing Woman Kristen Modafferi

Family handout

The case of a college student who went missing in 1997 and has been investigated as a possible victim of Robert Durst heated up when a cadaver dog allegedly found human remains in her Oakland, California, home Thursday.

Kristen Modafferi was 18 when she disappeared after working at a coffee shop in San Francisco's financial district on June 23, 1997. The soon-to-be college sophomore at North Carolina State was spending the summer in the Bay Area and was expected to begin taking photography classes at the University of California, Berkeley on the day after she vanished, according to an extensive website maintained by her family.

A retired sergeant searching the home near Lake Merritt where Modafferi briefly lived said his three-legged black Labrador detected the scent of human remains in the basement, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Paul Dostie, the retired sergeant, cautioned that it's too early to say whether the remains belong to Modafferi. An Oakland police spokeswoman told NBC Bay Area that officers from the department would follow up with Dostie. A technician from the department will also examine the area, ABC affiliate KGO-TV reported.

Police investigated whether Durst, 71, who lived in San Francisco at the time Modafferi went missing, was connected to her disappearance. In March, the Oakland Police Department released a statement saying that it had worked with the FBI and found no evidence indicating Durst was involved.

Durst was the subject of the HBO miniseries "The Jinx," which examined three murders of people in his life: his first wife in New York, a close friend in Beverly Hills and a neighbor in Texas. He was acquitted of killing the neighbor and was recently charged with killing the friend, Susan Berman.

Modafferi's family is offering a $50,000 reward for information about the case.

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