A body found in Roanoke over the weekend has been identified as an 81-year-old woman with dementia who went missing about seven weeks earlier, according to the Roanoke Police Department.
There were no signs of foul play in the death of Harriet Hodges, a longtime Raleigh Court resident, police said.
Neighbors had rallied to search for Hodges after after she wandered away from her home March 19. She was remembered this week as a voracious reader who was politically active and constantly seeking to learn more about the world.
“She was just a wonderful person,” said Jeanie Francis, who lived down the street from Hodges and was active in the search effort.
“She was extremely intelligent and had strong opinions,” Francis said. “She was funny. She had a very dry humor. And a kind heart. She was a good soul.”
Hodges was discovered around 12:15 p.m. Saturday in an outbuilding in a neighbor’s yard, police said.
Neighbors identified the woman as Hodges but police awaited confirmation from the medical examiner’s office before announcing the news Tuesday.
“Please keep Harriet’s loved ones in your thoughts during this difficult time,” said Caitlyn Cline, a police spokeswoman.
“Thank you to community members who tirelessly searched for her and assisted Roanoke Police during this investigation.”
The community had helped scour the neighborhood and kept up awareness of the case in the hope of finding Hodges.
Francis said, while not the outcome hoped for, she was grateful that Hodges could be laid to rest now. The outpouring of support for Hodges and for those who knew her has been incredible, she added.
As the weeks went on, Francis said people who had never met Hodges offered help, posted flyers or assisted in searching.
“I’m just thankful for everything the whole village has done,” she said, referring to Grandin Village, a close-knit area.
“It’s been nice to see how many people have cared,” she said. “The neighbors here look out for each other.”
Had circumstances been reversed, Francis added, Hodges would have been right there to help someone else.
“She was an advocate for everything she believed in that would help others,” she said. “That’s what she was like. We knew that. We felt that. We knew we needed to find her.”