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The more than two-month search for a missing Wisconsin mother of four has ended in tragedy as authorities confirm that a body found in a wooded area of Minnesota over the weekend is that of Ashley Carson.
The Pine County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Saturday that members of Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) Search and Rescue Group located possible human remains in Ogema Township, on lands belonging to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. It’s near the St. Croix State Forest.
Deputies from the Pine County Sheriff’s Office and officers with the Mille Lacs Tribal Police Department responded to the scene and confirmed that the remains were human. The body was transported to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Anoka County, which positively identified the remains to be Ashley Carlson on Monday.
Her cause of death has not been revealed.
Applied Professional Services, private investigators hired by Carlson’s family, announced on Saturday that Carlson’s remains had been found, according to NBC News.
“This is a sad day our family hoped would not come, and there are still many questions that need answers, but the important thing is we now have Ashley,” Carlson’s mother, Krista Struck, said in a statement, according to local station KARE. “Our family received incredible support from the community these past many weeks, and we thank them, the Christian Aid Ministries volunteer search and rescue team, the many involved law enforcement agencies and Applied Professional Services for helping locate Ashley."
Carlson was last seen on Sept. 23, according to Greenfield Communications, a public relations firm hired by the family, the station reported.
A day later, her rental car was found partially submerged in Grace Lake in Pine County, according to a joint statement issued by the Pine and Burnett County Sheriff’s offices on Nov. 12. Her personal belongings were left inside the vehicle.
Pine County deputies asked Burnett County deputies to check Carlson’s home, but she was not there. Carlson, 33, had not been seen or heard from since that day and family members said that was “unusual and unlikely behavior.”
Police said she did not have a cell phone with her when she disappeared.
Multiple law enforcement agencies including the FBI and the Wisconsin Justice Department helped search for Carlson. Police said the effort was massive, with dozens of interviews, 32 search warrants, more than 15 ground searches and at least seven drone searches.
Carlson’s family had offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to her recovery, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Nearly two weeks ago, the family hosted a spaghetti dinner and silent auction at a high school in Frederic, Wisconsin to raise money to fund the search, the paper reported.
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