Hunter finds body in vehicle matching one linked to missing Minto-area woman

The West District RCMP are investigating after human remains were discovered in a vehicle in a wooded area in Napadogan, about 25 kilometres northwest of Stanley.

Susan Lee, 43, of Newcastle Creek, has been missing since July

RCMP say the vehicle matches the description of the one Susan Lee, 43, of Newcastle Creek was believed to have been driving before she was reported missing on July 21. (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)

Human remains were discovered in a vehicle in a wooded area in Napadogan, about 65 kilometres north of Fredericton, RCMP say.

Sgt. Marc Fortin said the vehicle was found by a hunter Wednesday in the early evening. It matched the description of what a missing woman was believed to have been driving when last seen.

Susan Lee, 43, was from St. Mary's First Nation but living in Newcastle Creek, near Minto. She was last seen driving her black 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV on July 17.

"Our investigators and the coroner went to investigate, there were human remains found in the vehicle," said Fortin said Thursday.

Identity not determined

The vehicle with the remains was about 20 kilometres down a dirt road, which required investigators to return with 4x4s.

Fortin said an autopsy was scheduled to determine both the identity of the remains and a cause of death. He said the results could be available by Friday morning.

"There's nothing at this point to indicate any kind of foul play," he said, "but we can't definitely rule it out until we hear from the results of the autopsy."

RCMP  discovered other items with the vehicle and the remains, which they said could shed more light into what took place.

Lee was reported missing to the RCMP on July 21, leading to an extensive search. Nearly 60 volunteers scoured wooded areas and back roads in the Napadogan area in search of Lee on Aug. 3.

Her daughter, Emilie Gray, said she learned about the discovery of the vehicle and the remains from her grandmother on Thursday morning.

Emilie Gray (right) said she hadn't seen her mother Susan Lee for two months before her disappearance. (Submitted: Emilie Gray)

Since then, Gray said, she and other family members have been spending time with her grandmother.

"It's hard to describe the pain," she said, despite not knowing for sure if it was Lee who was found in the car.

Possible 'closure'

Lee suffered from mental illness, said Gray, who had not seen her mother for two months before her disappearance in July.

If the remains turn out to be her mother's, Gray said the discovery would offer some relief.

"It's closure," she said, "but it's still devastating knowing she is gone forever."

St. Mary's community members who searched for Lee during the summer described her as friendly, free-spirited and proud of her culture. They said her disappearance was out of character.