Search and Rescue volunteer says Venus Stewart’s family can finally begin to heal

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — When Kelly Boers found out that Venus Stewart’s body had been discovered Monday afternoon, she went out and bought a purple mum plant in her honor. When Boers returned home, she placed it on her deck.

“Venus’ color is purple,” said Boers while looking at it. “I hope it blooms every year and reminds me of that bright shining face, that great smile that she had.”

Boers was still in shock over the news, she said. Tuesday morning, she traveled to the location in Wakeshma Township where Michigan State Police dug up Venus' body.

“She laid in that cold ground for eight years out in the wilderness, cold and alone,” said Boers who is a board member with Greater Michigan Search and Rescue.

State police said Venus had been missing since April 2010. She was last seen walking near her parents home in Colon Township. Almost a decade later, her estranged husband Doug Stewart confessed to police that he in fact killed Venus and then led them to where he buried her body.

“Lot of emotions,” Boers said about her initial reaction to the news. “Thankful that this chapter is finally over for this family that didn’t deserve this.”

Boers was also upset, she said, that it took so long for Doug to confess. Doug was found guilty of Venus' murder back in 2011 but he always maintained his innocence.

“[I feel] anger that it was on Venus’ oldest daughters birthday that this chose to come about,” said Boers who's is also on the board of the Venus Foundation, and organization that helps women overcome domestic violence.

Boers was a part of a number of search and rescue teams who looked for Venus throughout the years. Boers said they searched in wooded areas, cemeteries, public and private properties. They also had scuba divers look for her in a few local ponds.

“In one of the searches we went through swamp water to here that was making us gag,” she said with her hand to her chest. “It was so nasty but we had to do it.”

She said they were committed to finding Venus for her family’s sake. Boers knows what they’re going through. Her own cousin disappeared in December 1990. She hopes Monday’s news will help the family move forward.

“They get to start the true healing process now,” Boers said. “Even though it still is going to be a raw open wound,  they get to start.”

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