Remains of Mother of 4 Found in Wooded Area Two Months After Disappearance: 'We Are Devastated'

Friends and family have been searching for Ashley Miller Carlson since her car was found partially submerged in a Minnesota lake in September

Ashley Lynn Miller Carlson
Photo: Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

The remains of a missing mother of four from Wisconsin have been recovered two months after her car was found in a lake.

The search for 33-year-old Ashley Miller Carlson came to an end on Saturday after her remains were discovered in a wooded area in Minnesota by members of Christian Aid Ministries' Search and Rescue Group, the Pine County Sheriff's Department said on Monday. The Midwest Medical Examiner's Office positively identified the remains to be Carlson.

Pine County Sheriff's Department did not immediately offer further details when reached by PEOPLE.

"This is a sad day our family hoped would not come, and there are still many questions that need answers, but the important thing is we now have Ashley," Krista Struck, Carlson's mother, said of the news, according to KBJR.

"Our family received incredible support from the community these past many weeks, and we thank them, the Christian Aid Ministries volunteer search and rescue team, the many involved law enforcement agencies, and Applied Professional Services for helping locate Ashley," she added.

Carlson's rental car was discovered partially submerged in Graces Lake on Sept. 24, according to the sheriff's department. Friends and family have since been holding on to hope they would find the mother of four alive.

In their search, authorities and search teams used aircraft, drones, sonar, K9s and divers. Dozens of interviews were conducted and 32 search warrants were issued, the sheriff detailed in a statement earlier this month. They also assisted in 15 ground searches, at least seven drone searches and two searches of Grace Lake.

"As a family, we are devastated, angry, frustrated and everything in between," Carlson's aunt, Carrie Miller, wrote in a post on Facebook after the announcement. "Yet, we did it, we did #BringAshleyHome which is what we set out to do. It brings us comfort and relief knowing she is back where she belongs, with her mom, her 4 kids and her family that love her beyond any words can describe."

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"Ashley, words will never be enough to tell you and show you how much you are loved and missed. Thank you for all that you shared with the countless people you shared your life with," she said. "Rest easy, sweet girl and know that we will be here with and for your mom, your 4 beautiful children as well as all of the family and friends you touched. I infinitely love you."

According to NBC News, the medical examiner has not yet determined Carlson's cause of death and there is no information on whether foul play was involved.

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