"The remains have been identified as Mary Pat O'Hagan," Vt. State Police Maj. Ed Ledo said.
Vermont State Police delivered the news no one wanted to hear, but many in the Northeast Kingdom were fearing. More than 3 weeks after she was snatched from her Sheffield home, an autopsy showed a body discovered at a Wheelock hunting camp is 78-year-old Pat O'Hagan.
O'Hagan's children and sisters were involved in every facet of the search, and Tuesday they released a statement calling her "a wonderful person who was loved by many."
The statement continued, "She taught us the true meaning of family and faith, both of which became the foundation upon which we stood throughout her disappearance. She will be forever missed and never forgotten."
"Somebody is responsible for the murder of a 78-year-old woman, and they're still at large. People should take precautions as they normally should," Ledo said.
Detectives said they know how O'Hagan was killed but would not tell reporters, saying they want to protect the integrity of their investigation. They also would not say if the autopsy revealed when O'Hagan died, if she was sexually assaulted, or any other details of how she was found. Police have not named a suspect or a motive.
Reporter Jack Thurston: If you revealed more information, do you think that might actually empower the public more to help you in your case?
Maj. Ed Ledo: Jack, that question's been asked. It's a double-edged sword for us. If we give out too much information, it doesn't help us down the road when people give us certain bits and pieces. There's a couple people who know what happened out there. We're going to hold that information close to our vest as we investigate this case. As the case unfolds, we will disclose that to the press when the time is right.
Thurston: Do you think those people who know more are in the state of Vermont?
Ledo: I'm not going to rule anything out. I suspect they have definite ties.
O'Hagan's large family said, "We would like to thank the community for their gracious support and thank the media for keeping Pat at the forefront of the news during her disappearance. Please understand that our family needs time to grieve. Thank you in advance for respecting our privacy."
Police are still processing the scene where O'Hagan was found. And they have other medical tests pending, including toxicology exams. Those could take several weeks to come back. They still want to hear from anyone with tips, and they specifically want to know if anyone saw anything suspicious in the area of the Horn Road in Wheelock in the last three weeks. A $20,000 reward is being offered for information that helps police solve the case. They're asking the public to call them with tips at the barracks in St. Johnsbury at 802-748-3111 or the State Police Crime Information Tip Line at 802-241-5355.
We are saddened by the news of our beloved mother, sister, grandmother and aunt. It is impossible to comprehend why someone would harm her. She was a wonderful person who was loved by many. She taught us the true meaning of family and faith, both of which became the foundation upon which we stood throughout her disappearance. She will be forever missed and never forgotten.
The Vermont State Police and FBI continue their aggressive investigation into this case. Now that Pat's been found, our family is hopeful that someone will provide information that will lead to the person or persons responsible for her murder and justice will be served.
We would like to thank the community for their gracious support and thank the media for keeping Pat at the forefront of the news during her disappearance. Please understand that our family needs time to grieve, thank you in advance for respecting our privacy.
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