ANOKA, Minn. - A large crowd of loved ones once again returned to Anoka to the site where searches were once held for Kevin Casserly. This time, it was to grieve.
"It is nice to finally know where he is," said Alexandra Casserly, his sister. "From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank each and every one of you."
Investigators confirmed that a body found Thursday in a rented recreational vehicle was that of Kevin Casserly. Casserly, 22, was last seen in November 2013 in Anoka near Ferry Street and Highway 10 without his shoes. His car was also found nearby with an empty tank of gas.
Sheriff's officials say a group of people rented the RV for a bachelor party over the weekend, bound for the Kentucky Derby. The group eventually pulled off the freeway in Winona to find the source of a foul odor. That's when they discovered a body lodged in a compartment of the RV that was accessible only from the outside. The discovery is what his family long feared after searching for Casserly more than six months.
"The complete and utter heartbreak when you realize that tiny hope that your heart was holding onto that your mind knew wasn't real, is gone," said Alexandra Casserly.
Alexandra Casserly said the rented RV was parked in the area of the searches for some time.
"We had been near it several times," she said. "We walked right by him."
The Casserly family asked the crowd to spread awareness of other missing adults in Minnesota. Debbie Dondlinger, said her son Jesse Johnson, is missing due to substance abuse and mental illness. Johnson was also a friend of Casserly's.
"I've been there. I've been with Kevin and helped them out when things were bad," said Dondlinger. "I'm a mom who will never say I've had enough."
Alexandra Casserly said in recent months, her brother overcame substance abuse and was transforming his life.
"He had made amends with so many us, myself included, and he was looking to have peace with everyone for his past. He earned it," she said.
At the end of the vigil, Casserly's six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son launched balloons in memory of their father.
"It's hard missing him, I miss him very much," said his daughter.
The Casserlys said they still have not learned how Kevin Casserly ended up inside the RV. Authorities have not yet released any more information. The case is being investigated by Winona Police and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.