VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — A years-long missing persons case out of Vancouver is finally coming to a close.
Investigators confirm the body found last fall in Skamania County is that of 27-year-old Ashanti Conde, who went missing more than four years ago.
Conde’s family says while it’s comforting to now have answers as to what happened to her, it doesn’t make the pain of the loss any easier.
“I’m thankful that I can finally heal from all of this, but very much in distraught, really just unimaginable,” said Alisha Hampton, Conde’s sister. “She was very energetic, knew how to make everyone laugh in the room.”
The mom of four was reported missing in March 2018, last seen in Brush Prairie with a man, Michael Conley, who had also been reported missing. It’s believed the two were in a Cadillac that crashed near Dougan Falls — and while Conley’s body was found a few weeks later with no signs of foul play, the search for Conde went on another three years before remains were found in that same area last September.
According to Vancouver police, the Sept. 26, 2021 search with the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team found human remains in a rugged and steep area near the site of the crashed SUV. After being sent to a private lab for identification, investigators confirmed those were the remains of Conde. Officials say information related to Conde’s death is being handled by Skamania County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and Skamania County Coroner’s Office.
“We are very relieved that we have answers and that these children will have answers,” said Anna Fry, Conde’s godmother. “They will have a place where they can go and visit and take their children.”
While police have not released a cause or manner of death, those close to the family say it appears the elements were to blame. Known for a childhood love of birds, butterflies and Snow White, family members say they find comfort in knowing she was in one of her favorite places, nature.
“Out of all of the ways she could go, I think if she could choose where it would be, it would be out in a forest with all of the animals,” said Fry. “She connected with everybody she encountered.”
Years, and many tips later, those involved with the search say it’s now time to remember Conde and honor her life.
“They found them months ago and it takes a lot to have to sit on information and wait,” said Michelle Bart, president and co-founder of the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation. “Families can never give up hope and should never give up hope. This family has looked near and far, our agency has as well. Every tip was followed and there’s still an investigation until the police have closed it.”
Conde’s family says they will be forever grateful for everyone who worked to bring her home.
“There were so many people reaching out, so many people helping us look, so many people supporting us and giving us our love and our prayers,” said Fry. “On behalf of Ashanti Conde’s family, we would like to say thank you so much for your continued support and love. We appreciate everything.”
A celebration of life for Conde will be held April 23 in Portland with plans for a burial and memorial service at a later date. In the meantime, her family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with burial expenses.