'Thinking of the family': Men who found Thelma Krull's remains hope it brings closure

A Manitoba man who was with his son when they stumbled upon the remains of missing Winnipeg woman Thelma Krull last month says he hopes it brings closure to Krull's family.

DNA testing identified remains as 57-year-old grandmother who disappeared on July 11, 2015

Marcel Trudeau said he was hunting with his son around twilight on Oct. 27 when his son found Krull's remains. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

A Manitoba man who was with his son when they stumbled upon the remains of missing Winnipeg woman Thelma Krull last month says he hopes it brings closure to Krull's family.

Marcel Trudeau and his son, Derric, found human remains while hunting on Oct. 27 in a wooded area around the community of Ste. Geneviève, in the rural municipality of Taché​, southeast of Winnipeg.

It's not far from where Trudeau lives in Ste. Anne, Man., but it's a remote area, he said. The brush is thick enough he guesses it would prevent most people from straying from the trails.

It was getting close to dark when Trudeau said Derric shot at a deer, and the pair thought he'd hit it. They split off to go check.

"I took off in one little area and he took off in another area," Trudeau said. "And then he screamed out my name. He said, 'I found something.'"

Trudeau and his son marked trees like this one as they walked away from the remains so that they could bring police there later. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Derric said he was in shock.

"It's not every day you see something like that and I knew right away, looking at it, it wasn't no animal remains. I knew it was a serious matter."

They'd found Krull's remains. They were a little scared, Trudeau said, so they left, marking trees as they walked so they could bring police back to the area, about 45 metres away from the road.

Derric said the remains looked old, and it crossed his mind that maybe they had found "an ancient burial ground of some sort." He never would have thought they were just three years old, he said.

The pair went to the Ste. Anne police, who called in RCMP from Steinbach, about 15 kilometres away. RCMP headed to Trudeau's home and he took them to the area he'd marked.

"We finally did find it and then the RCMP called some police in Winnipeg, I guess, and they left one of their cruisers there."

Derric said he and his dad didn't hear much about the discovery once investigators took over the scene — not until police announced on Thursday that Krull's remains had been found.

Searchers from across Winnipeg

Police said DNA testing over the past month had identified the remains as the 57-year-old woman who disappeared on July 11, 2015.

When Trudeau learned police had identified her, he said he immediately thought of her family "and that they would find out, that they did find out it was her, and there was finally closure on everything."

Thelma Krull, 57, seen here in an undated photo, went missing on July 11, 2015, after she went for a walk in the Valley Gardens area. (Submitted)

Derric, too, said he is happy if the find brings some relief, in time.

"I can't fathom the pain they are going through right now. It must be incredible pain," he said. "My condolences to the family. It's a pretty sad time for them."

The Winnipeg grandmother had gone out for a walk, leaving her home in the Grassie Boulevard area shortly after 7 a.m. She was training to hike the West Coast Trail in British Columbia.

Police believe Krull walked as far as Civic Park near Kildonan East Collegiate by about 8 a.m., where she was involved in an altercation and forcibly taken away.

Robert Krull, her husband, asked for privacy on Thursday, saying only that he hopes the find will lead to justice.

Winnipeg police released maps of areas in and around Civic Park where two people were seen the day Thelma Krull disappeared. (Winnipeg Police Service)

After Thelma Krull disappeared, her family and friends led searches that included hundreds of people from across Winnipeg, many who never knew her.

One of them was Bill McCausland. He never met Krull, but he said he felt compelled to help look for her when he saw social media posts from her daughter asking for help.

"I've learned, basically, that she was a very energetic, very nice person," he said of Krull. "After all these search parties I've come across a few friends, now, that have brought us together."

McCausland said his efforts to help find Krull led him to get involved in searches for other missing people in Winnipeg.

"It was like Thelma got me to go searching, and during that there was other people that have gone missing, such as Christine Wood. So I have joined onto those search parties as well," he said. 

"I would like to continue to do so. I just hope that a lot of other people don't go missing."

Police ask for information

At a Thursday news conference, Winnipeg police Sgt. Wes Rommel said the spot where Krull's remains were found — roughly 50 kilometres southeast of where she was last seen in Winnipeg — is likely a familiar part of the province for her killer.

Trudeau said not many people travel to the area. The closest house is about 1.5 kilometres away, he said.

"As you drive out, it's a lot of prairies with nothing around, and all of a sudden you get to these areas where it becomes wooded and more desolate," Rommel said. "I think that's a very significant piece." 

Police also believe Krull's killer was familiar with the area of Winnipeg where she disappeared — the person might live or work there, or had some other reason to be there.

At a 2016 news conference police said they had received a tip about a possible sighting of Krull, who appeared in distress, with a man near a gas station near Kimberly Avenue and Gateway Road on the morning of her disappearance.

At the time they released a sketch of the man, described as five feet, eight inches and 270 pounds with a bowl haircut.

On Thursday, Rommel said that suspect remains "an important piece of the investigation" but police are now considering "outside possibilities."

Trudeau said the area where he and his son found Krull's remains was about 45 metres away from the road, in a remote area with thick brush. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Police ask anyone who lived in the Valley Gardens area in July 2015 to reach out to investigators with any information they might have.

They also ask those who live around the area where Krull's remains were found to contact them about anything suspicious they might recall from the summer of 2015, or any other information that could assist investigators.

The police homicide unit continues to investigate.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).