Falmouth police have recovered human remains found over the weekend in a marshy area off Interstate 295, close to where a Richmond woman was last seen walking nearly two years ago.

Chief John Kilbride said Monday that the state Medical Examiner’s Office is still working to identify the remains, but he said officers have alerted the family of Anneliese Heinig, who has been missing since November 2019.

Anneliese Heinig Courtesy photo

“We have no confirmation except that we’re dealing with human remains,” Kilbride said, adding that the discovery is not considered suspicious.

The chief said a kayaker found the remains Sunday while exploring the shore north of the Presumpscot River. Police hiked into the area and worked there for a couple hours before the tidal flow forced them to retreat. The team returned to the site Monday morning around low tide to continue their operation. The Maine Department of Transportation temporarily shut down one lane of traffic so investigators could access that area.

“It’s thick brush, extremely difficult to work under,” Kilbride said.

Heinig, who was 37, was reported missing Nov. 28, 2019, by her teenage daughter after she did not show up at Thanksgiving dinner.

Two days earlier, a Maine State Police trooper had the vehicle she had been driving — a black Mercury Mariner SUV — towed from a spot where it had apparently been abandoned on the shoulder of the I-295 in Falmouth. At the time, a witness reported someone dressed in black and matching Heinig’s general description walking away from the vehicle near dawn on Nov. 26, 2019.

After Heinig was reported missing, Chief James Donnell of the Richmond Police Department, then a sergeant with the department, pinged the woman’s cellphone and tracked it to the tow yard in South Portland where it had been taken after being removed from I-295. Inside the SUV were Heinig’s cellphone, keys and wallet.

It was revealed later that the state police trooper who had Heinig’s vehicle towed, Cpl. Fern Cloutier, failed to follow department policy when he made no effort to contact the owners of an SUV parked along I-295 and did not inventory the vehicle’s contents.

The Kennebec Journal reported that Heinig, who also has a son, had struggled with her mental health and with substance use disorder, and previously threatened to jump off a bridge. Family members, however, said she had been in counseling and was doing well.

Heinig had posted on Facebook just four days before she disappeared: “I just want peace. I pray for Peace and my family. I love my children and I want the world to know.” And hours before she was last seen Nov. 26, she updated her profile photo with a photo of her two children from when they were young.

Attempts to reach her family were not successful Monday.

Multiple agencies searched the river and the area around it in 2019 and again in 2020 without success, even though that stretch of the Presumpscot is frequented by elver fishermen, recreational swimmers and boaters.

“We’re looking at everything right now,” Kilbride said.

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