WINNIPEG — Human remains found in a remote wooded area are those of a Winnipeg woman who disappeared more than three years ago, police said Thursday.
DNA tests have shown the remains, found by a hunter last month in the Rural Municipality of Tache, are those of Thelma Krull — a 57-year-old who left her home to go for a walk on the morning of July 11, 2015 and never came back.
"The discovery of Thelma Krull's remains and the encompassing circumstances, confirms our previous belief that Thelma was the victim of a homicide," said Sgt. Wes Rommel of the Winnipeg Police Service homicide unit.
"The location where Thelma was found is a remote area. It is approximately 50 kilometres southeast of the ... area where Thelma was last seen alive. Clearly, the suspect had access to a vehicle."
Krull's mysterious disappearance gripped the city and led to a large search effort. Her glasses and cellphone were found in a park, but there were no other signs of her.
Police received more than 450 tips from the public in the months and years that followed. They released updated information on a few occasions, including a sketch of a possible suspect — a man described as Indigenous, in his 40s, between five-foot-six and five-foot-eight and weighing about 270 pounds.
Investigators believe the man had access to a home in the Valley Gardens neighbourhood where Krull lived, and may have been living or working there.
Krull's family joined police in asking for anyone with information to come forward. Krull was declared legally dead last year so that her family could begin to deal with her estate.
No arrests have been made and but police are hoping they are getting closer.
"We've been waiting for a break in the investigation," Rommel said. "This is a major step forward ... Locating her is a big piece.
"We are looking at this in a positive light, that this will move towards some answers for the family, for the community to figure out what happened. This is a bizarre set of circumstances."
Rommel is also hoping the location where the remains were found might prompt information from the public. The area is off some small country roads and the suspect may have some connection to it, he said.
"As you drive out, it's a lot of prairie with nothing around, and then all of a sudden you get into these areas which becomes wooded and more desolate. I think that's a very significant piece."