Months of searching for missing Whistler DJ Mike Grefner came to a tragic end this week, after hikers discovered a body in the woods near Whistler Secondary School.
Whistler RCMP confirmed on Wednesday (March 14) after an autopsy that the deceased was Grefner, 34, who was reported missing in mid-January.
While there are no signs of foul play, police are "continuing to investigate the circumstances that led to his death," said Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair.
At this point the cause of death is undetermined, but further testing such as toxicology is underway.
"We're continuing to investigate to see if we can determine what caused the death," LeClair said.
News of the body's discovery on Saturday (March 10), and the eventual confirmation that it was Grefner, spread quickly on Facebook, with dozens of "RIP" and farewell messages flooding his personal page as the news was made public about midday on Wednesday.
Grefner's sister, Katherine, posted a message to the "Mike Grefner - Missing" Facebook page saying that Mike's cell phone and hoodie were discovered close to the remains, so the family was notified soon after the body was found. "Nothing could be said to the public until today when RCMP just confirmed it was Mike after testing was complete," she wrote.
"Thank you so much for all your hard work in searches and fundraisers. Your words of encouragement have been a source of inspiration for our family and we are eternally grateful," Katherine wrote.
"We will be discussing memorial service arrangements and then letting you all know what is planned."
LeClair expressed condolences to Grefner's family and friends on behalf of the Whistler RCMP.
"The Whistler RCMP and the Grefner family would like to thank the many friends and community members who assisted during the search for Mike," LeClair said.
A young couple was out for a walk on Saturday afternoon when they came across the remains, which were described as being decomposed to the point that no race, gender or other characteristics were identifiable. The couple called police to report the discovery, found in the woods between Whistler Secondary and 19-Mile Creek in Alpine Meadows, about a 10-minute walk from the school.
Police arrived, conducted a preliminary investigation and secured the scene overnight. A forensics team from Vancouver worked at the scene on Sunday and Monday (March 11 and 12) and the body was then transported to the city for an autopsy.
In the meantime, however, the missing person investigation continued, with interviews conducted Saturday and Monday with people who had last seen Grefner, LeClair said. Police were also working to develop a timeline of Grefner's last known activity.
Grefner, who went by the DJ name Vs. Zero, was last heard from in the early morning hours of Jan. 17. According to a timeline prepared by family and friends, he arrived at his home in the Rainbow subdivision by taxi at about 2 a.m. He then made several phone calls, with the last confirmed contact around 5 a.m.
Friends reported him missing to RCMP on Jan. 19 after Grefner failed to show up for a DJ shift at Maxx Fish on the evening of Jan. 18 and friends could not locate him at his home.
Extensive searches were conducted all around Whistler, both by RCMP and groups of family and friends. Numerous tips were also investigated, with unconfirmed reports of Grefner being spotted in Pemberton and one sighting in Alberta that was ruled out.
Searches continued in the weeks that followed Grefner's disappearance, and numerous fundraisers were held in Whistler and beyond to aid the search efforts.
Katherine Grefner wrote that she and her husband went to the site where Mike's body was located and they were "overcome with an outstanding feeling of peace in the area."
"I may not envy Mike's situation right now, but I can definitely be in envy of the wonderful friends he has in his life," she continued. "We are comforted in knowing our brother was blessed to have you all in his life."