CARYVILLE (WATE) – A Campbell County family is still in shock and heartbroken after learning the news remains found in the woods may be that of their missing loved one.
Starla Pride, 47, has been missing since September when her family says she wandered away from home. Nearly two months to the day of her leaving, investigators say a deer hunter may have found her.
The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office says the discovery happened near a dry creek bed in the Pinecrest community Friday afternoon. It was so remote, deputies had to take a boat to get there.
At this point the remains have been sent to the medical examiner’s office for confirmed identification, but deputies still say they were found close enough to the last search area, it validates the possibility.
“God has His reasons and I know we have a lesson somewhere. I do believe He answered our prayers, not the way we wanted Him to, but He did,” said Pride’s cousin Cynthia Beheler.
For weeks the Beheler family has been searching on their own for their cousin. Pride has lived with them for some time now and while they say she’s wandered off before, this time has been overwhelming.
“Before anything was confirmed or anything, I knew in my heart. You know sometimes you just know,” said Beheler.
How did Pride get so far away and go unnoticed for so long?
“I think she got scared and I think she kept going because they found her on the other side of where she’d been tracked to,” said Beheler.
The family says for the last two weeks they’ve been praying harder than ever.
“Whatever the situation is we need to know.”
Ultimately there’s the sense they traded hope for closure.
“My prayer is that she went to sleep and didn’t wake up. Because if she had suffered, it would break my heart, more than it already is. I couldn’t handle it if I knew she was hurt,” said Beheler.
While their hearts are breaking, Beheler says there aren’t enough thanks for this deer hunter.
“He went through a lot of trouble trying to find a house, a lot of terrain, and he went the hard way and found the first house and he did that for us,” she said.
They choose to remember Pride for her love of all things Elvis, pink and the way she looked during a trip to Graceland.
“The best picture in the whole world. We were getting ready to go in the mansion and she just lit up,” said Beheler.
At this point family says they’re not planning on having a memorial in East Tennessee. They simply ask for continued prayers. Investigators say foul play is not suspected, but they’ve not received confirmation yet.