When James Rennells disappeared three days before Christmas, his fiancée knew something had to be wrong, as Dearly previously reported.
As KATU News reported, Rennells’ family spent Christmas Day searching the park in Vancouver, Washington, where his car was found — along with his pants and belt. Police suspected Rennells had been in the park on foot, but no one could explain his disappearance.
Sadly, on Wednesday, a search crew found Rennells’ body in a cluster of bushes. A tearful Kashala Wilkinson, who was engaged to marry Rennells, last spoke to him shortly before his disappearance on December 22. Their 7-month-old daughter, Jessie Mae, suffers from heart problems, and Wilkinson told KATU she’d hoped he’d be found alive:
“I’m just in shock right now. I don’t know how to feel. Our baby needs him.”
In the video below, Wilkinson clutched Rennells’ coat as she spoke about how hard it was to envision a life without him:
“I love him and I miss him. I wish he was here, and I wish I could say goodbye.”
Rennells’ sister, Janice Kreier, echoed Wilkinson’s bewilderment at losing a loved one so suddenly. She told KATU:
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life. It’s like someone took the breath from my chest.”
Vancouver police are still investigating Rennells’ death, and his family is hoping to get more answers about what happened that night. Friends have set up a GoFundMe page for funeral expenses and to ease the financial burden on Wilkinson and her daughter.
For Rennells’ family and friends, losing him so close to a holiday makes it all the more tragic. Kreier told KATU she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to fully enjoy Christmas again:
“It’s going to make every Christmas — it’s never going to be the same for me, it’s never going to be the same.”