Family remembers missing woman whose body was found after search

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 10:49 PM CST
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HINCKLEY, MN (KBJR)-- After a nine-week search, the body of missing mother of four Ashley Miller Carlson was found east of Hinckley on Saturday.

Her family said they are grateful to have finally found Carlson. Maria Nelson and Ana Hines were two of Carlson’s aunts, though they considered her more like a big sister, as she was older than both of them.

“When I think about Ashley, that’s the number one thing that I think of, how accepting and non-judgmental she was and it didn’t matter what your background was,” Nelson said.

“When the call came through that Ashley was found, it was a sense of relief, but I think we all held on,” Hines said.

Carlson’s body was recovered after an investigation by law enforcement turned up few clues.

Then, after a series of searches involving volunteers, the family turned to an outside group that helped bring closure.

“The fact that our family was present when she was found, to me, is comforting,” Hines said.

But what the family didn’t find comforting, is that they had to take it upon themselves to find their niece, and Ken Anderson was their last resort.

“If it wasn’t for his help, we probably wouldn’t have Ashley here with us today,” Nelson said.

Anderson heads an organization that helps family’s find missing loved ones and said utilizing search and rescue organizations can be helpful to supplement law enforcement search efforts, as long as it doesn’t interfere with legal investigations.

“Families that feel that an agency with jurisdiction is not meeting their needs or is in maybe their eyes limited in the resources that they’re deploying, they should be able to reach out to somebody else,” Anderson said.

As for Carlson’s four children Wyatt, Willow, Waylon, and Waverely, there’s no shortage of family stepping up with support and love.

“When you see them, they are the spitting images of Ashley, and even though Ashley’s not here with us anymore, you just feel closer to her being with her children,” Nelson said.

While it was the ending no one wanted, the family said they are at peace knowing Carlson is not suffering.

“Ultimately, knowing that we’re able to bring her home, knowing that we can bury her in a place where we can visit her, somewhere we can celebrate her life, you know that’s the biggest thing for us,” Hines said.

Hines and Nelson said the family is hoping to have a memorial service planned by the end of the week.

An autopsy hasn’t been scheduled yet and the cause of death is unclear.

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