Friday, June 25, 2010

Husband Arrested In Venus Stewart Murder Case

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WAVY) - A Michigan woman's estranged husband has been arrested in connection with her disappearance.

A prosecutor in St. Joseph's County, Michigan announced Wednesday, Douglas Stewart is charged with murder and conspiracy. Douglas, who has ties to Newport News, was arrested and taken into custody Tuesday night.

His estranged wife Venus vanished from her parents' home near Kalamazoo, Mich., on April 26. At that time, Doug told police he was at his home in Newport News. Someone was in Newport News making transactions on his accounts, so the alibi appeared to be legitimate.

In May, police in Michigan and Newport News asked the public for information about anyone who might have impersonated Doug Stewart.

St. Joseph County Prosecuting Attorney John McDonough said investigators spoke with a man Tuesday who admitted to portraying Doug in Newport News. McDonough said the co-conspirator had been "extremely cooperative."

Authorities are not releasing many details about the man, such as his age, hometown, or relationship to Douglas Stewart; however, has learned he is not from Hampton Roads.

A relative told WAVY sister station WOOD TV that Stewart met the co-conspirator through an online video game. As of Wednesday night, the man had not been charged with a crime.

McDonough said Stewart and the impersonator started planning in early April. According to McDonough, evidence and interviews with several people including the co-conspirator, lead him to believe Venus is dead.

McDonough said he believes Stewart abducted, killed, and disposed of his wife's body, then went back to Newport News, met up with his look-alike, and exchanged clothes.

Dustin Jasper, Venus's brother, said after so many weeks of hoping she would be found alive, the latest developments are tough on the family.

"I just feel so bad that all this had to come this way... it's just terrible," he said.

In a report from WOOD TV , Colleen Roussey said: "[Doug] was such a controller."

Roussey, a friend of Venus' parents continued, "I just knew he killed her. He had to have killed her. We're all just -- we're calling each other and crying. It is so horrible for all of us, because we've all been working so hard to bring that girl home. And that didn't happen."

McDonough explained prosecuting the case may be more difficult without a body, but he said there is strong evidence. He added though that finding Venus is a "number one priority."

Stewart is being held at the St. Joseph County Jail on $4 million bond.

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