It was a horrible discovery for a family searching frantically for a missing teenage girl.
Community members from Wabowden turned out en masse to look for 14-year-old Heather Mallett after she didn't come home Wednesday night. By Thursday evening, her family's hopes were crushed when her older sister found a body on a trail in the northern community about 660 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
Family members say the RCMP told them investigators are treating the death as a homicide.
"She was my little sister. I'm going to miss her, I love her," said Kaynina Mallett, Heather's 18-year-old sister, through tears.
"It was just like something was calling me, like something led me to her."
RCMP haven't publicly identified the remains found in the community as Heather Mallet's. However, police said they're treating the female body they found as "suspicious in nature" and she'd recently died.
Mounties had issued a press release about the missing girl Thursday afternoon.
Mary Ann Kristjanson, Heather's grandmother and guardian, said she was told police are treating the death as a homicide. She said her granddaughter grappled with health issues like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). After the girl was born prematurely, Kristjanson had raised and loved her.
Heather's mother died in 2007, said Kristjanson.
"(Heather) was friendly. She had a few problems, like her health and that, but she coped," she said. "She was a very special child."
Kristjanson said the girl had left the house late Wednesday afternoon.
The grandmother started searching immediately when she didn't return home Wednesday night.
"I started phoning around and driving around looking for her," she said. "I stayed up all night."
She said she wanted to thank the people who "jumped" to find Heather, as the search widened.
"(Everybody) phoned and came, and then they went out looking, in different areas and different modes," she said.
"Some went on the boat and checked the shorelines. Some went on the quads and checked the back trails."
Kristjanson said the body was discovered around a trail in the community that went between Wabowden's centre and a trailer park.
Her surviving granddaughter, Kaynina, is struggling in the wake of her discovery.
"She's trying to cope, she's trying to be strong, but it's pretty hard... that's her sister," she said.
RCMP D Division spokeswoman Sgt. Line Karpish said it's still "very early" in the investigation.
"While we suspect who the deceased is, we cannot positively identify her until a post-mortem has taken place. We are hopeful that both the cause of death and positive identification will be established (Saturday)," said Karpish in an email to the Free Press.