An autopsy has been completed in the death of Billie Johnson on Tuesday, but more tests need to be done to determine the cause of death.
According to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the cause of death isn’t clear yet because of the state of the remains.
The 30-year-old Edmonton woman’s body was found on private farmland several kilometres northwest of Bon Accord on April 21. DNA tests confirmed Johnson’s identity.
“The outstanding and determined work of our homicide detectives is what led to this conclusion,” Staff Sgt. Colin Leathem of the EPS homicide section said in a release on Thursday.
“We had already gathered enough evidence to lay charges, but for the detectives leading this investigation, it was always about finding Billie and returning her home – giving her family the chance to observe their sacred cultural rites. It was very meaningful for all of us to be able to do that.”
After the police search was completed in the area, Johnson’s family was escorted to the site for private access and to grieve and perform cultural rituals.
Johnson was last seen in Edmonton the evening of Dec. 24, in the area of 113 Street and 107 Avenue. She was reported missing four days later.
At the time, police said Johnson’s disappearance was out of character and considered suspicious.
Johnson was mother to an 11-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, her family said, adding she was outspoken, free-spirited and always on the move – but was also glued to her social media and messaged family back right away. When she went quiet over Christmas, family members became concerned.
In February, Kenneth Courtorielle was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in connection with her disappearance. After the discovery of Johnson’s body, police said an additional charge of indignity to a body is pending. There was no update on that charge in Thursday’s news release.
–With files from Karen Bartko, Global News