WATERBURY, Vt. (CBS/AP) Ever since 78-year-old Pat O'Hagan was reported missing in September her family and friends insisted that she didn't disappear intentionally or wander away in a state of confusion.
Unfortunately, they were right.
On Sunday two hunters found remains that would later be identified as O'Hagan's, in a wooded area in Wheelock, Vt., about 50 miles north of Montpelier, and on Tuesday police told reporters they are investigating the case as a homicide.
"This turns the investigation into a new phase," Ledo said. "The fact that her body was found is a start, and it's a good turn."
O'Hagan, a vibrant widow who lived alone in Sheffield, Vt. after moving there from Massachusetts 15 years ago, was an active member of her town, serving as president of the Sheffield Historical Society, working a church's annual chicken dinner and volunteering at a food pantry.
A grandmother nine times over, she wasn't one for sitting around, often camped alone and was an active kayaker. Her five adult children say it's "impossible to comprehend why someone would harm her," according to a statement read by Maj. Edward Ledo, chief of the state police's criminal investigations bureau, at the Tuesday press conference.
Investigators have been tight-lipped about how they determined that O'Hagan was "forcibly removed" from her home and, although they say they do know what the cause of death is, they have not released it saying they they want to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
The police did not say whether they had any suspects but Ledo said the killer or killers are on the loose.
"At this point in time, someone is responsible for the murder of a 78-year-old woman, and they're still at large," Ledo said.
The news about the discovery of her body hit Sheffield residents hard.
"We're just all very sad," said 47-year-old Greg Bryant, who worked with O'Hagan at the food pantry. "There's a huge hole in the community. It's a small community, and she was a big part of it."
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