WINONA, Minn. — Blue ribbons continue to line Winona's streets 69 days after Maddi Kingsbury went missing.
On Thursday, her supporters filled Winona City Hall and learned that the human remains found on Wednesday were confirmed to be those of the young mother, who would have turned 27 on June 1.
"We were kind of hoping she would be alive — hidden somewhere," said Kingsbury's best friend, Katie Kolka.
Kolka was the first to call for a welfare check when Kingsbury went missing at the end of March.
Thousands of searchers have combed the counties of southeastern Minnesota since then, including Fillmore County, where Heidi Olson lives.
"I drove by last night and I just knew deep down what it was about," Olson said. "I knew."
Highway 43 was blocked at a dead-end dirt road after authorities found Kingsbury's remains Wednesday afternoon. Police said she was concealed in a wooded area that crews had already searched.
The property owner told KARE 11 that no one lives there, and they were unaware that she was found in the area, which is located just minutes from her ex-boyfriend’s parent’s home.
"It’s just mind-boggling to me how she was just right under our feet," Olson said. "But it’s not over; it’s just beginning now."
The community is still supporting Kingsbury by holding a benefit this weekend. Those closest to her say they're grateful.
"Thank you, everybody, for your support across the nation," said Kolka. "We really appreciate it."
Olson is hosting that benefit Saturday in nearby Wytoka.
"I’m glad to help them and they deserve anything they can get," said Olson.
There will be food, a live auction and a raffle in which all proceeds will go to support Kingsbury’s two kids.
Meanwhile, Kingsbury's loved ones ask the community to still keep a blue light on in her memory.
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