GARDEN RIDGE, Texas (CBS4) – Police in Texas have released a statement saying a Denver woman who was missing for weeks and was found dead on Thursday killed herself.

Leanne Bearden went for a walk from her in-laws’ home in Garden Ridge, Texas on Jan. 17. She never returned. Her body was discovered just blocks from where she was last seen.

“Bearden’s preliminary cause of death result is asphyxiation by hanging,” according to a release from Garden Ridge, Texas, Police Chief Donna O’Conner.

Bearden, 33, and her husband, Josh, were preparing to move back to Denver when she disappeared. The couple had recently returned from a nearly two-year trip around the world.

Family members have said that Bearden was stressed when she returned from the trip but no one can explain what led to her death.

The news of the discovery of her body has shaken those who knew her.

“Shocking, devastating… it’s like being knocked breathless,” said Bearden’s friend Chris Busch. “We’ve put so much work and effort in trying to find her. This was obviously not the outcome that we wanted.”

Bearden’s body was found in a wooded area behind a home just a few blocks from where she was last seen.

The homeowner called police Thursday afternoon, one day after a $20,000 reward was offered by Bearden’s family.

Busch helped in numerous searches for Bearden.

“It could be like trying to find a quarter on the moon because it was just so hard to see into those trees,” said Busch.

After she went missing, police in Texas said there was no indication that her disappearance was “criminal in nature” and ruled out her husband as a person of interest.

“We love you very much but just want to know that you’re okay,” said Josh in an interview from January.

Friends believe the man who pleaded for his wife’s return wouldn’t do anything to hurt her.

“When they would go out and do things he didn’t want to let her out of his sight because he didn’t want something to happen to her while they were on their trip,” said Busch.

The final autopsy results are still pending toxicology results.

Statement From Garden Ridge Police Chief Donna O’Conner

Today the missing person case on Leanne Mary Hecht Bearden comes to a close. The preliminary autopsy results indicate asphyxiation by hanging with the opinion on manner of death, suicide. The final ruling is pending toxicology results.

The investigative information indicates the death occurred a short time after she was seen leaving the residence for a walk.

On behalf of the City of Garden Ridge, the Garden Ridge Police Department and the citizens of Garden Ridge, we respectfully request we be allowed the time to process and reflect on this tragedy.

Our thoughts are with the Hecht and Bearden families as they grieve the loss of their
loved one. There are no words to express our appreciation to all the citizens, law enforcement agencies, Texas Search and Rescue and Heidi Search Center for their support.

– Donna O’Conner, Chief of Police, Garden Ridge, Texas


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