Erin Howlett

The body of Erin Howlett, 28, was found in the Grand River on July 5. (Waterloo Regional Police)

Waterloo Regional Police say the investigation into the mysterious death of a small town waitress who's body turned up in the Grand River this summer is now considered a homicide. 

The grisly discovery of the body of Erin Howlett, 28, on July 5 by a group of teenagers swimming in the Grand River at the Huron Natural Area in Kitchener's south-end sent shock waves through her hometown of Elmira, including the popular Sip & Bite, where she worked as a waitress. 

'Someone out there knows what happened and they have information that will help bring this to a conclusion.' - Staff Sgt. Shaena Morris

After months of investigation, Waterloo Regional Police said in a news release issued Friday that based on evidence collected at the scene and tips from the public, "investigators are now confident in their assertion that Erin Howlett's death was the result of a criminal act." 

However, the police statement also said investigators will not be releasing the cause of Howlett's death in order to "protect the integrity of the investigation," the release said. 

"Someone out there knows what happened and they have information that will help bring this to a conclusion," Staff Sgt. Shaena Morris said. "We need to hear from them."

Howlett vanished in June

Howlett vanished this summer, when, according to a Facebook post by local radio station 91.5 The Beat, she was last heard from on June 27, when she departed for Toronto with an "unknown friend."

She was expected to arrive home by June 29, according to the post.

The investigation is ongoing and anyone who has information, or may have seen Erin Howlett between June 20 and July 5, is asked to call police at 519-650-8500 ext. 8642 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).