Jean Stokes' family friend: Tears of relief and sadness were shed

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Police launch a homicide investigation, after discovering the remains of a New Orleans woman missing for six months.

"Tears of sadness were shed. Tears of relief were shed."

Family friend Austin Badon says, for loved ones, the news was bittersweet. A DNA match proves police found the body of 76-year-old Jean Stokes.

"I can only imagine what they've been going through the last 5 to 6 months, not knowing where their family member was her seeing the family member," said Badon.

Family members say they last spoke to Stokes October 11th. Two days later, they reported her missing.

Now, police are investigating Stokes' death as a homicide.

"Because of the circumstances, some evidence that was found in the vehicle, some evidence that was found in the home, it is an ongoing criminal investigation where foul play is suspected," Badon explained. "Here's a lady who had no dementia, no Alzheimer's. She was actually out here cutting her own lawn and taking care of her own home, so what happened to her was not a natural occurrence."

It wasn't long before searches for Stokes turned up her missing SUV, found off the levee near Michoud Boulevard, just a mile and a half from her home.

"Generally, a bad guy would probably not drive around the greater metropolitan area with a body in his car," said Badon.

It's why Badon says he and others focused their search in New Orleans East.

"She was located in a place that she would not of visited or otherwise been," Badon said.

While police continue searching for clues to serve justice, Badon says Stokes' family is thankful for a little closure.

"They are very grateful to, at least, have their loved one back in some sense of the manner, to be able to get this wonderful lady measure dignity and a proper burial," Badon said.

Over the course of the search for Stokes', Badon learned he is a relative of Mrs. Stokes. He says that makes this case that much more personal for him.

Police urge anyone with information to contact homicide detectives or Crimestoppers.