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UPDATE: Body found in Abbotsford confirmed as missing woman Erica Schmidt
A body found New Year's Day on Whatcom Road in Abbotsford has been confirmed to be that of missing woman Erica Schmidt.
Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said Schmidt's body was retrieved from a dense brush area in the 2100 block of Whatcom Road. He said it appeared that her body had been there for some time.
MacDonald said police received a call just before midnight on New Year's Eve from someone who believed they had seen a body in the area in question.
Police sent out search crews, including a K9 unit, but were unable to find anything in the dark.
MacDonald said a patrol officer who walked the area the following morning located Schmidt at about 9 a.m. Members of the patrol division, forensic identification unit, and major crime unit gathered evidence on the scene, and foul play was ruled out.
Schmidt left the home she shares with her husband, Henry, on Timberlane Drive – in the vicinity of Old Yale Road and Whatcom Road – on the morning of Oct. 5.
A multi-day search was launched that included members of Central Fraser Valley Search and Rescue and the Abbotsford Police Department (APD).
Family friend Mark Henter coordinated a volunteer effort to complement the official search. Dozens of volunteers scoured city streets to distribute and post "missing person" flyers.
The search efforts were buoyed on Oct. 17, when the APD released a video clip that showed Schmidt walking in the 2400 block of McCallum Road just hours after she had been reported missing, but no further credible sightings were reported.
The "Help Find Erica!" Facebook page posted continuous updates, including messages from Schmidt's husband and three adult children.
Her family then held a press conference on Nov. 7, appealing to the public for new information that might help locate Schmidt. At the time, they said she had suffered from depression in the past and was going through a difficult time about two weeks before her disappearance.
MacDonald said the community showed "amazing levels of support" during the missing person investigation.
"The Abbotsford Police Department and the Schmidt family would like to thank everyone who showed support and provided assistance along the way," he said.
A memorial marker has been placed near the site on Whatcom Road where Schmidt was found. The family has said it will soon post a list on Facebook of Schmidt's favourite charities so that people who wish to do so can donate funds in her memory.
Schmidt and her husband, a Bible school teacher, made many friends during their travels around the world to places such as Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, the U.S. and Nepal.
Schmidt is survived by Henry; their three children, Amy, Sophia, and Michael; and three young grandchildren.
(Photo below: The body of Erica Schmidt was found in dense brush area on Whatcom Road in Abbotsford on New Year's Day. Police cordoned off the area, including a nearby gas station, while they were on the scene.)