Massachusetts officials say the skeletal remains of a missing woman were identified nearly a year after she was last seen alive, PEOPLE confirms.
Joanne “Jo” Ringer, 39, disappeared on March 2, 2017. Her remains were positively identified through the use of dental records on March 1, according to the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office.
The D.A.’s office said it was unable to comment on where, when and how Ringer’s remains were found, beyond noting it was in Hatfield, Massachusetts.
But Ringer’s closest friend, Ginger Plantier, says they were discovered by a hunter “deep in the woods” behind Plantier’s home, near a Christmas tree farm.
Ringer’s cause of death has not been identified “at this point in time,” Fred Lantz, a district attorney’s spokesman, tells PEOPLE. “It remains an open and active investigation.”
More than a year ago, Ringer’s husband, 42-year-old Chad Reidy, reported her missing when he said he couldn’t find her after he returned home from working the overnight shift at a local supermarket in Clarksville.
Investigators soon learned Reidy and Ringer had been married for two months — and despite still being newlyweds, the couple’s relationship wasn’t as blissful as it appeared.
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Officials began to grow suspicious. But before Reidy could be brought in for a polygraph test, he killed himself in April.
Still, he remains “the prime suspect in the death of his wife,” according to the D.A.’s office.
While authorities focus on the investigation, Ringer’s friend Plantier says she is “devastated” by confirmation of her death.
“My life has been devoted to finding my friend,” she tells PEOPLE. “I hadn’t allowed myself to grieve, so now it’s all-consuming.”
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Plantier said Savanah Ringer, Jo’s 20-year-old daughter, is also overwhelmed with the news but is staying strong.
In the days leading up to the discovery of Jo’s remains, family and friends were planning a vigil for the one-year anniversary of her disappearance. Instead, in light of what was found, they quickly turned it into a memorial.
“It was so wonderful to see everyone together and celebrating Jo’s life,” Plantier says. “We brought Jo home, but now we have to get her justice.”