Mexican investigators are saying with certainty that the 43 students that went missing last September are dead. The students were taken by police, turned over to a local gang, were killed, and their bodies burned to ash, reported The Huffington Post.

“The evidence allows us to determine that the students were kidnapped, killed, burned, and thrown into the river, said Mexican attorney general Jesus Murillo Karam. “There is not a single shred of evidence that the army intervened . . . not a single shred of evidence of the participation of the army,” despite claims of the victims’ families.

Laer last year, Mexican authorities were able to come across what they believed were human remains. Preliminary DNA tests identified the remains as belonging to one of the students. The remains were then sent to DNA lab in Innsbruck, Austria which confirmed the result.

According to Murillo Karam, the authorities obtained confessions and noted that the remains were found near a garbage dump in southern Mexico. The dump is where the bodies were burned and forensic evidence “showed the fuel and temperature of the fire were sufficient to turn 43 bodies into ashes.”

Authorities received testimony from Felipe Rodriguez Salgado, who was charged with disposing of the 43 bodies, bringing the number of confessions to 39. Sample of fuel and tire steel allowed investigators to conclude that the bodies burned for hours and were then crushed, bagged, and thrown into a nearby river.

The federal government in Mexico was criticized by citizens nationwide, prompting thousands to protest for months over the government’s apparent lack of action to find justice for the missing 43 and their families.

Sadly, protesters and the families are demanding that the students be brought back alive, as if to not believe that they were brought to such an unfortunate fate.

“On a personal level, it makes me mad because this is what they’ve always done,” said Valentin Cornelio Gonzalez, brother-in-law of one of the victims. “There’s no chance that the parents are going to believe the PGR (saying) that they’re dead. . . . They are going to look for them alive.”