How did the police find Venus Stewart's body after 8 years? Details explored ahead of Dateline: Unforgettable
Over eight years after 32-year-old mother-of-two Venus Stewart from Michigan went missing, authorities were able to find her remains buried in a five-foot-deep grave in an isolated wooded area in Kalamazoo County, where her estranged husband Doug fatally struck her in April 2010. Doug was serving a life sentence in prison when he confessed to the murder and led authorities to her remains in 2018.
Venus' case garnered significant media attention as investigators spent years scouring areas across Southwest Michigan in search of her body following multiple leads but to no avail. The breakthrough only came after Doug Stewart revealed the location of his wife's remains in exchange for prison privileges.
Dateline: Unforgettable further delves into Venus Stewart's case in an episode titled Finding Venus, which is scheduled to re-air on Oxygen this Tuesday, February 7, 2023, at 6:00 pm ET. The synopsis for the episode states:
"Venus Stewart stepped outside her door and vanished; investigators suspected her ex, but he had an alibi; a video gamer's tale had detectives seeing double and exposed the truth."
Venus Stewart's remains were found after husband's confession that came over eight years later
In October 2018, the Michigan State Police verified that Venus Stewart's remains had been discovered in Fulton from a wooded area in Kalamazoo County. The discovery was made after the victim's husband Doug Stewart, who was previously convicted on two charges in connection to her murder in 2011, confessed to the crime, revealing the location where he buried her body all those years ago.
Doug reportedly confessed, saying,
"I don't know what I was thinking back then... I was just on a mission."
He admitted to ambushing his 32-year-old estranged wife and mother of his two daughters at her parent’s home one April morning in 2010, claiming that he was indeed waiting for her to come outside. Doug then grabbed Venus by the neck and choked her until she passed out, after which he just sat there staring at her and claimed that he "didn't have a plan."
Doug, however, soon confessed that he had already visited a wooded area in the hours prior to the assault, despite his claim that he had no plans, and that's exactly where he took her - an isolated area near Fulton surrounded by woods. He stated that he killed Venus there by striking her hard once she regained consciousness and dragged her into the woods where he buried her.
The confession came years after Doug maintained his innocence, claiming that he had nothing to do with Venus' killing, even after being convicted for murder. He stated that it was around Christmas 2017 that things changed for him:
"It finally hit a point where I finally wanted to tell my family."
In exchange for his confession, he requested some prison privileges, including Xbox gaming consoles in the veterans section at the Saginaw Correctional Facility in Tittabawassee Township, Michigan, and to be able to attend his parents' funerals when they die.
Doug was first found guilty based on evidence found and testimony from a key witness
Back on April 26, 2010, Venus Stewart reportedly went to check the mail and never returned home. Her parents reported her missing soon after. Venus was then residing at her parents' house in Colon Township after having moved out of her Newport News, Virginia, home that she shared with her husband Doug. She accused him of domestic violence and molesting their daughter.
Eventually Doug Stewart was convicted of Venus Stewart's murder, due, in part, to a key witness named Ricky Spencer, who testified during his 2011 trial. Spencer alleged that Doug convinced him to impersonate him as he drove to Michigan from his home in Newport News, Virginia, and carried out the crime.
According to reports, Doug was found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, receiving a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.