The family of missing Marlborough woman Jessica Boyce say they have been bracing themselves for news that her death may had sinister overtones.
Police yesterday confirmed they were treating Boyce's death as a homicide after she was last seen in Renwick on Tuesday, March 19, driving a red Holden Rodeo ute.
The vehicle, which belonged to her mother, was located at the Lake Chalice car park in the Richmond Ranges on Friday, March 22.
However, police said they now believed the vehicle was used to put investigators off the track in the hunt to find her.
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"Police now believe that vehicle, which has been seized for forensic examination, was deliberately left in the car park in an effort to mislead the investigation.
"As a result of their inquiries investigators have identified a number of other locations of interest in Marlborough."
In a Boyce family statement, they said they met with officers on Monday when they were given the update.
"This has come as a shock to us, but we have been bracing ourselves for the possibility of such news over the last few months.
"We still hoped that perhaps Jess may have had an accident or mishap; and even dared to dream that she may yet walk back through the door. Unfortunately those hopes and dreams have now been dashed.
"As yet, no details of what has actually happened to Jess are available to us. We understand that the investigation is ongoing, and that the police continue to extensively gather information and evidence."
They remained united and strong as a family and hoped to find out what happened to her.
"[We] would so dearly love to have her home. In the meantime, we will wait for the police to complete their investigation. We will face this waiting with the dignity and respect that Jess would have loved.
"Hopefully our whimsical girl who has flown elsewhere will be blown back to us soon."
They also thanked police and the community for their efforts.
"The ongoing support from extended family, friends and the wider community has been immense. We so appreciate the continued help, love, and empathy that has been expressed by so many people. We know Jess would have been overwhelmed by this."
Another friend wrote how her "heart has just been dropped from great heights my worst fears about all this has become a reality", upon hearing the news.
"It's been 7months and 2 long [sic] my friend any1 that knows this beautiful soul knows jess just wouldn't walk off and leave people she loves in such dispare and worry it was never in her nature to stress people out."