UPDATE: Michigan State Police confirmed Wednesday morning, the remains found in Fulton on Monday are Venus Stewart.
FULTON, Mich. -- Forensic crews finished the recovery of Venus Stewart’s remains from a wooded area in Kalamazoo County.
Venus went to check the mail on April 26, 2010, and vanished. Eventually Doug Stewart was convicted of her murder, due, in part, to a key witness named Ricky Spencer.
Doug convinced Spencer to impersonate him while he drove to Michigan from his home in Newport News, Virginia. Venus had taken the children and moved in with her parents near Colon after she had accused him of molesting their daughter and sealed reports of domestic violence.
Doug Stewart said, "I don't know what I was thinking back then... I was just on a mission."
He said he ambushed his estranged wife Venus at her parent’s home that April morning.
"I did lie in wait," Doug said, "She did come outside."
And that's when Stewart said he grabbed his wife by the neck until she lost consciousness.
He said, "I just sat there and looked at her... with my best friend in my lap. I didn't have a plan."
Although Stewart said he had no plan, he admitted that he had already visited a wooded site in the hours before the attack.
He drove her to a private field surrounded by woods near Fulton. After Venus regained consciousness, Stewart admits he killed her and carried her into the woods where he buried her.
“I had come here the night before. I had planned for this to be the spot," Doug said.
He also says he immediately regretted it.
"I don't know how I did it," he said. "I just can't believe I did it."
The day provides a sense of closure for police and family who have been working nearly a decade to find her body after she was murdered by her estranged husband Doug Stewart.
The Venus Foundation, an organization found by family members to help locate missing people named after Venus, posted on their Facebook page:
Doug said he had nothing to do with her killing for years, even after being convicted of Venus’ murder. He hid behind lies until his appeals were exhausted.
“I remained as silent as I could.” He said, “I would never forgive myself.”
But Doug said around Christmas 2017 that things changed.
“It finally hit a point where I finally wanted to tell my family.”
Doug said his sister began to reconcile with Therese McComb, Venus's mother.
He said, “I let them know I didn't want this burden on the family or even selfishly myself. I didn't want it anymore. It's a horrible pain knowing you're hurting people. Even beyond the crime you committed.”
Doug bargained with detectives that if he were to be able to get a couple perks while serving his life sentence that he would lead them to her body.
Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Chuck Christensen said, “There a came a point within the third visit that, yes, he did kill her and he can bring us to the location where she was buried.”
The search began on Monday morning. Doug said he left landmarks in the secluded wooded area near Fulton where he buried the mother of his children.
“I put two stumps over the site.” He said, “I knew I couldn't forget where she was.”
The landmarks enabled police to find Venus's remains several hours into the search.
Christensen said, “Those landmarks were still intact. There was a change in soil composition.”
A team of detectives and Western Michigan University archaeology students were called in to sift through the layers of dirt to excavate Venus’ remains.
Christensen said, “I'm glad we were able to get closure on this and keep going.”
The moment was a long time in the making for detectives.
Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Todd Peterson said, “It was purely for them that we kept going in the hopes that someday we'd locate her remains and give her some closure.”
Doug knows he can't take back what he did, but said he now hopes to make amends with Venus’ family.
During Doug’s murder trial Spencer testified, “He mentioned he was going to bury her where they wouldn’t be able to dig there for over 100 years, like a national park. He said that in his will, like when he gets older, he’d have a location where she was.”
Time has passed and Doug is older.
He said, “My family has told me the closure will do more for them than I could possibly know.”
Police said the discovery of the body doesn't change Doug’s prison sentence. He's still serving a life sentence.
In the coming days, a forensic analysis will be conducted on the remains found in this area, but MSP is confident it is Venus.