SPANISH SPRINGS, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- A missing person's case is now a homicide investigation, and the lead suspect is dead.
Human remains found on Ocean View Drive on Wednesday were positively identified today as those of 56-year-old Colleen Muhl's. As detectives work to piece the story together, family and friends are grieving the loss of a couple who, until now, seemed to have a solid marriage.
"She is, in fact, deceased and was the victim of a murder," said Washoe County Lieutenant Tom Green.
Nearly four weeks after going missing, family and friends are mourning the death of Colleen Muhl. Her body was found buried in the backyard of her Spanish Springs home on Wednesday, nine days after her husband Gerald Muhl committed suicide.
"He's absolutely the suspect in the homicide of Colleen Muhl at this time," said Green
51-year-old Gerald Muhl, a retired Army Colonel, originally cooperated with the investigation into his wife's disappearance, even allowing detectives to walk alongside her grave. "On that first Sunday when detectives went out and interviewed Mr. Muhl at his residence, he was cooperative and allowed detectives to walk around the residence and look around," Green said. "There was a pile of rocks that had been laid over that area."
After the cadaver dogs failed to find the body, satellite imagery dating back to 2011 was used to pinpoint a possible burial site. After Gerald's death, detectives searched again. "The grave site was sophisticated," said Green. "It was not only deep, but plastic and concrete and rocks were used to conceal her body, her body was intact. We were able to identify her based on fingerprint records."
Colleen's cause of death was a gunshot wound. But police are still searching for a motive. "They had a solid marriage of 17 years, and on the surface, there was no indication of problems," said Green. "We have information that indicates a potential motive. It's not solid at this time. It's kind of a working theory amongst detectives."
With the murder suspect dead, and no concrete motive, detectives are focusing on the time frame they believe the murder happened. "We are awaiting samples on items from the house that we think will help us put pieces of the puzzle together that we don't know yet."
Meanwhile, family and friends are remembering a woman they describe as cheerful and always smiling.
Detectives still need more information about Gerald Muhl's whereabouts from 3 p.m. on February 17 until 4 a.m. on February 18. If you have any information, you are asked to call the Detective Division at 775-328-3320.