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Crime News Murders

Body Found Near Abandoned Washington State Barn Identified As Missing Oregon Mom-Of-Three Joanna Speaks

"It keeps me up at night thinking that whoever did this to her — blunt force trauma to the head and neck, I mean that is violent — that person is walking around," said Ariel Hamby, the stepsister of slain mother-of-three Joanna Speaks.

By Christina Coulter
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Authorities confirmed that remains found beside an abandoned Washington state barn earlier this month belong to missing Oregon mother-of-three JoAnna Speaks, and that her death is being investigated as a homicide. 

Clarks County Sheriff's Office officials said that Speaks, 32, died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck, according to KGW-TV

Ridgefield Police officers were called out to a property off South 5th St. and 78th Place in Ridgefield, a Washington city about 22 miles north of Portland, Oregon, at around 6 p.m. on April 8. There were "indications that the body was moved to [that] location" from elsewhere, according to the sheriff's office.

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Police have not identified a suspect, revealed additional details about the case or released a motive in the killing.

"CCSO is asking for the public’s assistance with this investigation," the Clarks County Sheriff's Office said in a statement to KGW. "Please contact detectives if you are aware of any suspicious people or vehicles at or near 8004 S 5th St in Ridgefield during the last few weeks. If you have recent contact with Joanna Speaks or have information about where she has been staying or who she has been associating with, please contact detectives."

Speaks leaves behind two sons, aged 12 and 13, and a 7-year-old daughter, according to a GoFundMe launched by her family to cover funeral expenses.

"Her children have made it clear that they would like to keep a piece of her with them, but also have a place to visit where her name and life will be engraved and never forgotten," reads the fundraiser's description. "We're hoping that we can at least give them that."

"You can definitely tell [the kids are] sad — they've broken down the first couple days, but now it's like they're trying to avoid talking about it," Ariel Hamby, Speaks' stepsister, told KGW.  

"We have amazing memories with her. She was a big kid. She was hilarious, sarcastic and super witty," said Hamby. "She's now the missing piece of our family that completed us. And we'll never forget her and we will never let our kids forget her."  

Hamby and another one of Speaks' sisters said that the last time she was in contact with her family was in March, according to the news station, and that she had been struggling with addiction. The family wrote in their GoFundMe that they received the "call that would break [them] to pieces" on April 11, informing them that Speaks was found dead.

Breaking the awful news to Speaks’ children "was one of the most difficult and heart-wrenching things we’ve ever had to do,” the GoFundMe read.

"It keeps me up at night thinking that whoever did this to her — blunt force trauma to the head and neck, I mean that is violent — that person is walking around," Hamby told KGW.

Robyn Speaks, JoAnna's sister, told the outlet that her sister's death "just doesn't make sense." However, she said, theirs is not "a family that gives up." 

"We won't give up on finding answers ... doing whatever we have to to get some sort of peace for her," she said. 

"We'll find them," added Hamby. 

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