A person of interest currently jailed for an unrelated crime is now the main suspect in the disappearance of a mother of eight in Michigan last year, law enforcement said this week.
Heather Mae Kelley, 35, of Portage, was first reported missing in December after she vanished while supposedly picking up an acquiantance.
More than 100 days after she was last seen, Kelley’s disappearance is now being treated as a homicide, Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller III told ABC News on Friday.
Though Fuller said that police have explored “several different possibilities,” he confirmed that the investigation led them to “one person of interest.”
“That person of interest is still in jail on unrelated charges. But right now, we feel that the investigation continues us on a path toward a possible arrest at some point, down the road, of the suspect,” he stated.
Though Fuller declined to share the suspect’s identity, Kelley’s boyfriend, 37, was arrested after ditching his parole tether, four days after her disappearance. He remains in federal hold through late April.
Fuller encouraged the public to continue coming forward with tips.
“We’ve gotten in some pretty good information…The investigation seems that it’s leading in an area that we are convinced is a solid connection,” he said.
The FBI has also offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to Kelley’s location, and there is an additional $5,000 reward from local agencies.
“I believe at this time we’ve had several tips so far in the last few weeks, since the reward did go up, and we are posting this reward up on mobile billboards throughout the area,” Peter Ellis, the resident agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit field office, told ABC News.
Earlier this month, law enforcement confirmed that Kelley’s blood had been identified in the charred remains of her pickup truck, which was found by her cousin in Comstock Township one day after she was last seen.
“We believe that given the spring weather and how it’s warming up and more people are out traveling along the edges of the road in this area where we have searched fairly well, we believe that there’s still a possibility that she is in that area and that springtime is when somebody is going to come across Ms. Kelley and then contact us,” Fuller told the outlet.
“This case is a really sad case,” Nick Arnold, the director of public safety for Portage, echoed.
“I’m very confident that we are going to be able to find Ms. Kelley and bring this case to a close.”
Kelley reportedly called her eight children for the last time around 10:20 p.m. on Dec. 10, and never returned home.