The parents of missing Winnipeg woman Christine Wood say they are heartbroken after learning investigators now believe she is dead, but have yet to locate her body.
"We are heartbroken and overwhelmed; we never imagined a life without our Christine," Christine's parents George and Melinda Wood said in a statement.
Winnipeg police say there was enough forensic evidence at the home of Brett Overby, 30, to charge him with second-degree murder. Wood was 21 at the time she disappeared.
"I would say not one in 20 trillion chance of her being alive," homicide investigator Sgt. John O'Donovan said Monday at a news conference in Winnipeg.
"The main reason we can't find her is because he won't tell us."
Police said the slaying happened at Overby's home on Burrows Avenue in Winnipeg. Overby was arrested on April 7 and charged with second-degree murder.
Police believe based on forensic evidence that Wood was killed at the home. The pair were likely strangers before Aug. 19 when Wood was last seen alive, O'Donovan said.
Search for body continues
The search for Wood's remains continues.
"We didn't know she was dead until we got inside that house," O'Donovan said, adding informing the family of Christine's death was difficult for police.
"We literally crushed their hope and made their worst nightmare their reality."
Sheila North Wilson, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, said she and the Wood family never lost faith Christine could still be out there.
"It's a sad reality that we're standing here today," Wilson said. "It's not the outcome that we hoped for. We hoped against all hope."
Went missing last summer
Wood went missing last summer. She was last spotted on Aug. 19, 2016, when leaving a hotel on Berry Street after 9 p.m. CT.
The 21-year-old Oxford House First Nation resident had been visiting family in Winnipeg.
Homicide investigators were led to Overby's home on Burrows Avenue, between Salter and Charles streets, in January after a search of electronic devices connected to Wood.
Investigators spent six days at Overby's home, beginning on March 21. One neighbour said members of the police identification unit removed two interior doors from the building.
Investigators "left no stone unturned," O'Donovan said, adding at this point police are still trying to piece together a timeline.
Court documents revealed police also arrested Overby on March 24 . He was charged with assaulting an ex-girlfriend between 2011 and 2016.
'Heartbroken and overwhelmed'
In the days before police announced an arrest in the case, Wood's family had renewed calls to find her seven months after she went missing.
Relatives and friends of Wood posted rest in peace messages on Facebook last weekend, and community members held a vigil on Oxford House First Nation Saturday night.
On Monday, North Wilson read a statement at the news conference on behalf of Christine's parents.
"After the most difficult eight months of our lives, we're now mourning the loss of our beautiful daughter," the letter from George and Melinda Wood reads.
"We want to thank our family, friends and all the people — both in Winnipeg and at home in Oxford House — who have supported us and searched for Christine all these months. The love and kindness we has experienced has helped carry our family through this terrible time.
"We are grateful for the Winnipeg Police Service's efforts to find our daughter and are hopeful for some form of justice."
North Wilson said too many Indigenous women continue to be murdered or go missing, and the public is led to believe that makes it normal.
Family and friends plan to attend a vigil in Winnipeg on Wednesday.