FARGO — The human remains found in south Fargo near the Red River Aug. 22 are those of missing woman Brenda Kartes, according to city police.
Deputy Chief Joe Anderson said evidence found at the site of where the remains were discovered in a Fargo cemetery has police treating Kartes' death as suspicious. But he said a medical examiner was not able to determine a manner or cause of death for Kartes.
“We believe there is someone or multiple people who have additional information” regarding her death or disappearance, Anderson said at a news conference on Thursday, Aug. 29.
Anderson said the department treats all suspicious deaths as homicides until definitive information becomes available. "We have persons of interest. However, we can't say anything further," he said.
The deputy chief said anyone with information regarding Kartes’ death or disappearance should call police at 701-241-5777 or text 701-730-8888.
Workers at Riverside Cemetery discovered Kartes' skeletal remains on Aug. 22, and the remains were sent to the medical examiner, who identified Kartes through dental records, Anderson said.
He said it's possible the remains had been in the river at some point. He added it was also possible river level fluctuations over the past year may have contributed to the remains being discovered. The case is still under investigation.
Parents Lynn and Dale Kartes said in a message to The Forum that this is not the outcome the family hoped for.
"We're trying to deal with our daughter's death the best we can, which is extremely difficult," the parents said. "We just want to thank everybody all over for the past 13 months for their prayers and sharing her missing person posts. We are just so overwhelmed with grief."
Police said Kartes was last seen leaving Centre Inc., a Fargo drug treatment center, at 1:35 p.m. on July 12, 2018. Kartes’ parents previously told The Forum she was addicted to methamphetamine and had bipolar disorder.
A missing person report was filed on July 30, 2018, and police sought the public's help in finding her in August 2018. Kartes was 31 years old when she went missing.
Anderson said investigators determined there was no activity on Kartes’ financial or social media accounts after July 12, 2018.
Kartes' family previously told The Forum they hadn't received any phone calls, texts or emails from Brenda, and that she left behind her belongings, including her vehicle, IDs and money.
Her family said they received information about people claiming they saw Kartes in Bismarck in May 2019, but the tip did not lead anywhere.
Kartes’ family initially focused their search in Texas, based on Kartes’ last Facebook post the day before she went missing that mentioned a boyfriend there. But her family told The Forum they didn't think that's what happened.
Kartes' family previously said they feared she might have been a victim of human trafficking because of her vulnerability given her mental illness or that "maybe someone did something to her and she's not with us anymore."
Laura Vraa, Kartes’ childhood friend, heard the news of Kartes' death on Thursday. “I knew in my heart I could feel it,” Vraa said.
Chief David Todd said police are going to “put forth their full efforts” and make sure Kartes’ family finds justice if foul play was involved.
Forum reporter Kim Hyatt contributed to this report.