The search for missing Michigan woman Venus Stewart appears to finally be over as the man convicted of murdering Stewart took the authorities to the purported burial site Monday, October 22. Here is everything you need to know about the timeline of Venus Stewart’s murder case.
2008 – The Stewarts’ Marital Trouble Started
In 2008, problems started cropping up on public record between Venus Rose Stewart and her estranged husband Douglas Stewart. That year, Venus Stewart requested a personal protection order against Douglas, stating her fears that he would come after her.
“I am scared to death and every day I live in constant fear. I am constantly looking over my shoulder wondering when he will appear again,” the protection order read.
Tired of their differences and problems in their marriage, Venus eventually left their marital home and took their daughters with her. Douglas has said that Venus alleged he was molesting their daughters, which made him furious.
2010 – Venus and Douglas Separated
Venus separated from Douglas in February 2010 and moved from Virginia to the home of her parents, Therese and Larry McComb, in Colon Township, Michigan. Venus and Douglas’ two daughters, Rachael and Brooke, were living with Venus in Michigan as well, as she was granted temporary legal custody of them.
April 26, 2010 – Venus Stewart Disappeared
On April 26, 2010, around 7:00 a.m., Venus, still wearing pajamas, went outside the house to get the mail. However, she never came back.
At the time of her disappearance, Venus Stewart was 32 years old, and her daughters were only three and five years old.
Venus’ family filed a missing person’s report. Police then interrogated her estranged husband, Douglas, also known as Doug, who said that he was in Virginia at the time of her disappearance.
May 4, 2010 – Authorities Find Evidence
During the investigation, the authorities looked through Doug’s truck in Virginia and found bloodstains and a Walmart receipt that proved that Doug had bought a shovel, tarp, cap, and gloves. The receipt showed that the items were purchased a day before Venus vanished. In fact, surveillance video also showed Doug purchasing the products at an Ohio store.
Additional evidence against Doug included phone records, major testimony from an accomplice, and a partial fingerprint on a tarp discovered outside Venus’ house.
June 1, 2010 – An Accomplice Confesses
Authorities started to suspect that Doug had an impersonator staying in Virginia after a witness came forward and said that they saw Doug in Michigan when Venus was murdered.
Doug’s alibi, a Delaware man named Ricky Spencer, confessed the truth. He told the authorities that he and Doug met each other on an online gambling platform. Spencer claimed he’d agreed to help Doug murder Venus several weeks before she went missing. He said that Doug told him Venus was abusing their daughters, and that it’s why he decided to help—because he thought the kids were not safe with Venus.
Spencer said that he posed as Doug and lived in Virginia while Doug was in Michigan to kill Venus. Doug, Spencer maintained, asked him to wear his clothes, sleep in his apartment, and even use his credit cards so that he could have an alibi at the time of her murder.
June 22, 2010 – Douglas Stewart’s Arrested
After Ricky Spencer’s confession, police arrested Doug, and on June 23, 2010, he was charged with the murder of Venus.
March 2011 – Doug Goes on Trial
At Doug Stewart’s trial, in March 2011, Spencer said he spoke to Doug on the phone and asked him if killing Venus was worth it. Doug replied that it was, to protect his daughters and to give them a future.
Spencer said Doug also told him that he would call him later as he had to bury Venus. Spencer further testified that he again spoke to Doug on the morning of April 26, 2010, and that Doug said that he selected a different burial spot because people were around, near the first spot.
That same day, Spencer met Doug in Bethesda, Maryland, and gave Doug back his clothes, credit card, and the keys to his apartment.
On March 11, 2011, Doug was pronounced guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The jury had reached a verdict following three hours of testimony.
April 18, 2011 – Doug Stewart Receives His Sentence
Thirty-seven-year-old Douglas Harrie Stewart was sentenced to life imprisonment on April 18, 2011. He is currently imprisoned in the Saginaw Correctional Facility in Freeland, Michigan.
July 22, 2011 – Spencer Sentenced
Ricky Spencer, who was considered an indirect accomplice, was sentenced to one year in jail for his involvement in the murder of Venus Stewart. In June 2011, he pleaded no contest to one count of conspiracy to commit manslaughter. After his release, Ricky was supposed to serve three years of probation.
However, according to reports, eight months after his sentencing, Ricky was released from the St. Joseph County Jail on March 11, 2012.
October 22, 2018 – Venus Stewart’s Remains Finally Found?
Michigan State Police Lt. Chuck Christensen confirmed the news that detectives believe they’ve found the remains of Venus Stewart. Christensen said that a tarp was found at the murder scene that matched the one Doug bought the day before her murder.
Medical examiners still have to confirm the identity of the deceased. According to police officials, Venus’ remains were found down a two-track dirt road, close to South 42nd Street and East U Avenue in Wakeshma Township. The location was just 12 miles north of where Venus was last seen alive.
Christensen noted that Doug took the authorities to the remains eight years after Venus’ murder. He also claimed that authorities would never have found her remains without Doug guiding them directly to it.
State police had been communicating with Doug for many years with the help of a media outlet, Christensen said. Doug confessed to killing Venus around a year ago, he added, but didn’t reveal what he did to her body.
According to Doug, after Venus’ father Larry passed away earlier this year, Venus’ mother Therese began talking to Doug’s sister. The relationship between the two families started to improve.
Doug said his father and sister persuaded him to reveal the truth. He recounted the events leading to the 2010 murder to NewsChannel 3. He said he met Spencer online in 2010, following his wife’s move to Virginia with their daughters, and the two discussed his problems. “What started out as a fantasy, slowly turned into planning,” he said
Because of time, pressure, and prison officials agreeing to a couple of his requests, Doug finally revealed the location of Venus’ remains. Reportedly, Doug was allowed to be a part of a prison dog program and also wanted to teach sign language from prison.
Doug Stewart Revealed the Truth
Doug confessed that he and Spencer came up with a plan to kill Venus. However, Doug said, the first attempt was a failure because he was stopped by the authorities as he was driving to Michigan. Their plan was that Spencer would stay in Virginia and pretend to be Doug. But because of the traffic stop, the plan failed and Doug returned to Virginia.
Doug also revealed that the second time he came to Michigan, he hid outside the gate of Venus’ parents’ house, pretending to be a USPS delivery guy. When Venus came out to the mailbox, he was hiding near a propane tank.
When Venus was close enough, Doug said, he grabbed her and choked her until she fell unconscious. While she was unconscious, Doug said he had his doubts and took her somewhere else.
When Venus regained consciousness, they spoke, and it was in that conversation, Doug said, that Venus said something that made him very angry…and he lost it and murdered her.
Spencer tesified in court that in her final moments, Venus was put in a headlock by Doug until a drop of blood flowed from her nose.
The Michigan State authorities on Monday (October 22) escorted Doug out of the Saginaw Correctional Facility and took him to southern Kalamazoo County, located near Fulton. He took them to the wooded area and confessed to killing her and burying her there in 2010.
Many civilians and detectives searched everywhere to find Venus. Former WOOD TV8 reporter Dani Carlson, who worked on the story, stated that Venus’ case had a heavy impact on her.
Carlson couldn’t dispose of all her stories or notes on the case, even after she moved away. After Venus’ remains were found, she tweeted:
— Dani Carlson (@DaniCarlsonSays) October 22, 2018
Although Venus Stewart’s remains are thought to have been found, her family is still heartbroken, and her mother now claims that she will never be able to forgive Doug for killing their daughter.