It was not the homecoming they hoped for.
The relatives of Rosenda Strong finally have her back among them. But it is only her body, and not the spirit they so loved and respected.
Strong, a mother of four, disappeared in October after leaving her home with an acquaintance to visit a Washington reservation casino. She would have turned 32 in April.
The Native American woman's remains were found in a freezer on July 4, in an area of the Yakama Nation where trash is illegally dumped, her sister, Cissy Reyes, told InsideEdition.com. Two transients discovered Strong's body inside the discarded appliance.
She had been missing for 275 days and was the subject of many searches, vigils and prayers.
"We are at this moment still trying to cope with the devastating news," cousin Roxanne White told InsideEdition.com. "We strongly believe our sister's murderers were other local natives that she believed were her friends."
Authorities offered their sympathies, but offered no details about the nearly yearlong disappearance.
“The Yakima County Coroner’s Office and its staff offer our condolences to the family and friends of Rosenda Strong,” Yakima County Coroner Jim Curtice said in a news release. “Rosenda’s remains were positively identified with the use of dental records."
Her death has been ruled a homicide and is being investigated by tribal police, the FBI and the Yakima County Sheriff's Office.
White is also an advocate for Native American women subjected to violence. "We know we're not alone and we want to send prayers and acknowledge the other native women that are still missing and those that have been murdered. As Yakama descendants and lifelong residents, we are here for other families," White said.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Yakama Nation Police Department at 509-865-2933 or the FBI at 509-990-0857.