Garden Ridge police confirmed at 3:45 Thursday a body found in Garden Ridge, Texas, was that of Leanne Bearden, the woman missing over three weeks. (Credit: Kens 5)
After weeks of searching, a missing person investigation came to a tragic conclusion after a body was discovered Thursday along with the missing woman's backpack and ID.
Police say Leanne Bearden killed herself.
Bearden, 33, went for a walk on Jan. 17, and never came back. She was visiting her in-laws in Garden Ridge, Texas, just outside of San Antonio. For weeks, authorities and family-organized search parties combed the area, but found no sign of her.
Her family began considering the possibility that Bearden, who had just returned from a two-year trip around the world, may have gotten stressed transitioning back to her stateside life and taken off voluntarily to decompress.
"The pressure of transitioning from her two-year trip back into what we consider 'normal' life seems to have left her very anxious and stressed," the family said in a statement posted on Facebook Jan. 30. "As a result of this investigation there is evidence that Leanne may have voluntarily left the area, and we understand this is a strong possibility."
But Thursday, a man found a woman's body in the wooded area behind his home--just a few blocks from the home of Bearden's in-laws. The body was hanging in a tree. Investigators were able to identify the body by the belongings with it, including Bearden's ID card.
Friday, the Garden Ridge Police Department released the results of the autopsy.
“Bearden’s preliminary cause of death result is asphyxiation by hanging,” Police Chief Donna O'Conner said in a statement.
The family issued a statement Thursday night:
Our family is understandably devastated by the news of the recovery of the remains of our beloved Leanne. We wish to thank the myriad of people who helped us search for Leanne and who supported us during this entire nightmare. We also wish to thank the members of the media who helped us tell our story. We thank the Garden Ridge Police Department and the other many agencies that provided such caring service to us. We especially thank the Heidi Search Center for their wonderful help and support. Although this is not the outcome we had hoped for, we draw comfort and strength from the outpouring of prayers, actions, and good wishes from all, including over 20,000 Facebook friends. We ask your continued prayers and good wishes for our family. Leanne was a lovely and remarkable young woman, and we will all miss her greatly.