Hours after human remains were discovered during the search for Savannah Spurlock, her aunt released a heart-wrenching statement about the family's loss — and thanked the tipster who led authorities to the discovery.
Lisa Thoma, Spurlock's aunt who served as a spokesperson for the family throughout the duration of the search, released a recorded statement on the Missing Savannah Facebook page after police concluded their press conference Thursday.
During the press conference, police confirmed the family's worst fears: The remains found at the home in Garrard County, Kentucky, shortly before midnight Wednesday were those of the mother of four who had been missing since January.
"Our sobs of pain and physical anguish are met with moments of our beautiful memories of the vibrant and vivacious person she was," Thoma tearfully said. "She lives on through her precious boys, who each carry a special part of her in them. We know that Savannah has not been suffering all of this time. She has been cradled in the arms of our Great Savior, Jesus Christ. As we have cried out to Him through the unknown, we continue to cling to Him through the pain and heartache of the truth to come."
Spurlock's family plans to grieve privately and plans to shutter the Missing Savannah Facebook page, which was created in the hopes of bringing the young mother home safe.
"We could not have done this without the over 35,000 of you on this page who have followed, shared, prayed, searched, donated, and advocated," Thoma said. "You have kept Savannah’s silenced voice alive along with us in a fight for the truth. You have embraced a stranger with empathy and compassion. Many of you have adopted her into your family as one of your own. Thank you."
She thanked the tipster whose phone call to police led to the suspect's' arrest, saying it "took immense courage and bravery to stand up for the truth."
Thoma went on to also thank the detectives on the case, the many law enforcement agencies that assisted in the investigation, advocacy groups that advised the family throughout the search for Spurlock, the searchers who looked for her niece and the media for covering the case.
"The amount of support and love you all have shown our family is incredible. Around the world, you have been Savannah Strong," she said, referencing the hashtag created to spread awareness of Spurlock's disappearance. "God has an amazing way of knitting people together through tragedy.
"As this part of the process closes for us, we continue to pray and advocate for the other families of the missing who are still waiting. We pray for perseverance through the unknown," she continued. "We pray for courage to fight for their loved one, who is worthy to be found.
"Savannah, we love you so much," she said. "Rest in Heaven. Thank you."
Investigators were contacted Wednesday about possible human remains at a Garrard County home. A foul odor reportedly coming from the property aroused a neighbor's suspicions and they called police.
Authorities had searched the home in January after it was identified as the last place Spurlock had been seen, police said in February.
Spurlock, 23, went missing in early January after leaving a Lexington bar with three men.
One of those three men, 24-year-old David Sparks, was arrested Thursday and charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence, Kentucky State Police said. He appeared in Garrard District Court Thursday and a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Spurlock's cause of death will be determined by the State Medical Examiner’s Office, which is handling her autopsy.