Missing woman’s death ruled a suicide

GARDEN RIDGE, Texas (KXAN) — The body of a woman who had been missing for almost a month was found in a wooded area behind a home Thursday in Garden Ridge.

Leanne Bearden, 33, went for a walk on Jan. 17 while visiting her in-laws in Garden Ridge and never came back.

Police responded to the scene around noon after a person who spotted the body tipped them off.

Donna O’Conner, Garden Ridge’s police chief, said both families had been notified after the body was found with ID, jewelry and a backpack, according to WOAI, the NBC affiliate in San Antonio.

After an autopsy Friday, the death was ruled a suicide. Investigators said the death occurred a short time after Bearden left for a walk.

Searches were conducted in an attempt to find Bearden, and the family later hired a private investigator and were offering a $20,000 reward for her safe return. O’Conner believed the area had been searched previously, but said it was heavily wooded.

On Feb. 5, family members and the private investigator shifted their search to Austin after receiving tips that Bearden may have been panhandling in the area.

In a statement Thursday on a Facebook page set up to help find Bearden, her family said they were “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,” it went on to say. “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.”

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