Human remains found on a rural property earlier this year have been confirmed as those of a pregnant Abbotsford woman missing since 2016.
Remains found in the 32000 block of King Road on March 19 belong to Marie Stuart, 38, who was declared missing in December 2016.
Although the case is still under investigation, foul play is not suspected, Abbotsford Police said in a press release issued Wednesday, May 17.
Stuart was five months pregnant when she disappeared.
In a statement accompanying Wednesday’s press release, Stuart’s mother Janet said: “My family and I wish to express our sincere thanks to the Abbotsford Police Department, our friends, neighbours and community for their help, support and prayers regarding Marie. Thank you.”
Stuart was first reported missing on Dec. 27, 2016. She and her husband, Leslie Schellenberg, had been playing the smartphone game Pokemon Go when they missed their regular bus to head back home.
They took a different bus, which arrived in front of Sevenoaks Shopping Centre – not far from their home – but went in separate directions when they got off the bus. Stuart did not have a cellphone with her.
Schellenberg was unable to find Stuart, and, when she didn’t return to their residence, he called police.
Police at the time said investigators corroborated Schellenberg’s story, including reviewing security video that showed him and his wife going in separate directions after leaving the bus. They said they did not believe he was in any way responsible for her disappearance.
About two weeks after Stuart disappeared, police released a photo of her, obtained from video surveillance in the area where she had last been seen.
Police received numerous tips from people who believed they had spotted her around Abbotsford, but none of those led to her location.
Police said they pursued every avenue possible trying to find an answer to Stuart’s disappearance, including conducting about half a dozen ground searches and two searches of Mill Lake. But, without any new evidence, they were stalled in their investigation.
Abbotsford Police Sgt. Judy Bird said investigators are now trying to piece together how Stuart ended up on King Road from where she was last seen near Sevenoaks Shopping Centre – a distance of about four kilometres.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Abbotsford Police Department at 604-859-5225 or text 222973 (abbypd).