MicroStockHub/iStock(COLUMBIA, Mo.) — The mother of a Missouri woman who has been missing for more than a decade says she’s sure that human remains found by police in a landfill Wednesday are that of her daughter.
Authorities announced Wednesday that they had found remains that were consistent with those of Megan Shultz, who disappeared from her Columbia, Missouri, home in 2006.
Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones, whose department has been pursuing the case for 13 years, said at a news conference Wednesday that “the remains and evidence located with the remains are consistent with what we expected to find when looking for Megan.”
Jones said that DNA testing to prove a match would take some time — but Shultz’ mother Debra told Missouri TV station KOMU-TV 8 that she’s confident the remains are her daughter’s.
“She was dressed exactly the way that I described her and I understand that the body is somewhat intact,” Debra Shultz said.
Megan Shultz’s disappearance confounded investigators for more than a decade after her husband, Keith Comfort, told authorities that the 24-year-old walked out of their apartment after an argument at around 1 a.m. on Aug. 5, 2006, and never returned.
Police did not consider Comfort a suspect in her disappearance, and he subsequently moved to Wisconsin to raise the couple’s young daughter.
In the ensuing 13 years, police followed tips from people who said they had spotted Shultz as far east as Kansas City, but none of them panned out.
The break in the case came last month when, police say, 13 years to the day after reporting Shultz missing, Comfort, now 37, walked into the police station in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and confessed to killing his wife.
According to court documents, Comfort said that he and Shultz had argued, and that he had forced her to the ground and strangled her. After he realized she wasn’t breathing, he put her body in a garbage bag and “threw her into the … dumpster” of their apartment complex, according to KOMU 8.
Armed with that knowledge, Columbia police began a painstaking search of the city landfill to try to recover Shultz’ remains. The dig covered a 14-acre area as officers worked to identify items that were disposed of around the time Shultz went missing, according to Columbia ABC affiliate KMIZ-TV.
“We talked the first day of the landfill, and most of us have children,” Chief Jones said at Wednesday’s press conference. “And none of us, including the city manager, were comfortable with that being the resting place of a child. Somebody’s child was there.”
On Wednesday, police informed Debra Shultz of their discovery.
“I’m still in shock. It’s like ‘Oh my God, my baby will get to come home,” Shultz said.
Comfort is being held in custody on a $1 million bond, according to KMIZ.
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