Normally I don’t feature missing persons cases where someone has been convicted of killing the individual in question but after reading about the case of Venus Rose Stewart through another true crime fan and social media friend, I felt a strong urge to write about this case.
On April 26, 2010, Venus Stewart was living with her parents at 55966 Driftwood Drive in Colon, Michigan, after leaving her abusive husband in Virginia when she went outside to the residence mailbox. She was never seen again.
Upon reports to police that Venus was missing, signs of a struggle were discovered near the mailbox, along with discarded packaging for a Walmart tarp, which led investigators to believe the young woman had been abducted. A neighbor who reported seeing a man hiding behind a vehicle in the empty lot across the street from the Driftwood Drive home only strengthened this theory.
Detectives immediately began digging into the background of Venus and her husband, Douglas Harrie Stewart, and learned Venus had recently been granted an Order of Protection against her estranged husband as well as temporary custody of the couple’s children. Douglas was permitted contact with his children only via telephone pending further orders of the Court.
Definitely motive worthy, noted investigators.
Spouses are always the first suspects in cases of missing persons, especially where foul play is suspected; even more so in cases such as the Stewarts’ where protection orders have been filed. So it comes as no surprise that Douglas came under intense scrutiny by investigators.
The day after Venus was reported missing, Douglas was located in Newport News, Virginia, where he was living and the prior residence he shared with Venus and their children. When questioned by police, he was adamant in his denial of knowing anything about Venus’ disappearance. According to Douglas, he had not left Newport News as of late and most certainly not on the day Venus went missing.
Yet investigators didn’t believe Douglas and a search of his vehicle produced evidence that contradicted his claims; specifically, an Ohio Walmart receipt, dated the same date that Venus disappeared, for a tarp, shovel, cap, and gloves. Blood was also found in the truck, although later tests would prove it to belong to Douglas rather than Venus.
The receipt was obviously strong evidence in disputing Douglas’ claim he had not been outside Newport News but it wasn’t enough, especially since several people claimed to have seen him in the Newport News area on the day in question.
Continuing their investigation unveiled a man who claimed to have served as Douglas’ alibi by way of impersonation on the day Venus went missing. The man’s name was Ricky Spencer. The 21 year-old Spencer claimed not only have to provided an alibi by impersonating Douglas but to have also helped to plan the murder.
In June 2010, Douglas was arrested for the murder of his estranged wife. The following Spring, a jury found Douglas guilty of murder and sentenced him to life in prison without parole. Spencer pled guilty to conspiracy to murder and was sentenced to one year in prison.
Fast forward to 2012 -
In the eyes of the law, Venus Stewart is dead and justice has been dealt to her killers. But for her mother, Therese McComb, every day is still a day of much sorrow.
She understands her daughter is probably dead. She understands Venus was probably killed by Douglas amid their divorce and custody dispute. Deep down, she knows it’s fact that Venus will never return home alive.
But there is no body.
So what if?
It’s those what-ifs that Therese struggles with. She needs to know where Venus’ body is. She needs that closure.
And it was this unquenchable need that led Therese to agree to a live-audience taped session with Dr. Phil. A session she would soon come to regret.
During this show, Therese outlined the case of her daughter’s disappearance and the subsequent conviction of Douglas Stewart for murder. And Therese was also very candid about her constant focus on needing to know the whereabouts of her daughter’s body.
Dr. Phil’s response? Therese needs to get over her “obsession” of finding Venus’ body. “You’re not letting go,” he said.
As the friend I mentioned earlier says, Dr. Phil was likely making this statement for the sake of the Stewart children. But isn’t this rather callous advice?
I do not know, and pray that I never know, what it must feel like to not know where your child is – dead or alive. To live with the uncertainty must be (almost) unbearable.
As I told my friend, I’m no Dr. Phil fan. He’s a dude who only plays a doctor on television who spouts advice that equates to nothing more than common sense most of the time but because it comes out of his mouth, people gobble it up as the gospel.
While it’s not for me, I don’t begrudge anyone who watches his show. Everybody is entitled to their own likes and dislikes but when he goes to spewing nonsense such as telling a devastated mother who has lost her child to let go and that’s she’s obsessing too much, I take serious issue with it.
A real man – a wise man – would have realized this was out of the scope of his ability and rather than bringing her on the show in anticipation of boosting ratings, would have encouraged her to seek private, one-on-one counseling.
But he didn’t and you can’t undo what’s done. So I will do my part to help this woman I’ve never met, as one mother to another.
Although her husband has already been sentenced for her murder, let’s bring Venus Rose Stewart home to her mother and her children. Let’s give them the closure they deserve!
If you have any information about Venus Stewart, please contact the Michigan State Police at 269.483.7611. Also be sure to like the Venus Rose Stewart Facebook Page and the Venus Rose Stewart Tribute site.