Details of Disappearance Venus was last seen at her parents' home in the 55000 block of Driftwood Drive in Colon, Michigan between 7:10 and 8:30 a.m. on April 26, 2010. She walked outside to mail a letter and never returned.
Evidence of a struggle, including heel marks and gauges in the soil, was later found in the front yard. An empty clear plastic package for a tarp was also found. A neighbor reported seeing a man hiding behind a light gray four-door pickup truck parked in the empty lot across the street from Venus's parents' home around the time she went missing.
Authorities immediately suspected Venus was abducted from the residence by her estranged husband, Douglas Harrie Stewart, while her father and two daughters were asleep. He may have taken her in either of the two vehicles registered to him: a silver 1998 Mercury sedan with the Virginia license plate number XNP1453, or a silver full-size four-door Dodge Ram pickup truck with the Virginia license plate number XNP1301. Venus has never been heard from again.
A photograph of Douglas is posted with this case summary. He and Venus married in 2002 and lived in Schoolcraft, Michigan before moving to Newport News, Virginia in 2009.
In the summer of 2008, Venus filed for an order of protection against him, stating he had abused her and threatened their children, and that she was afraid for her life. Douglas denied these allegations and requested a protective order against Venus, saying it was she who was guilty of domestic violence against him.
Both orders were dismissed in October 2008, but before Venus and Douglas moved to Virginia she filed for another protective order against him, which was denied. In February 2010, Venus took the children and moved back to Michigan. She filed for a third protective order, which was approved. She was granted temporary custody of them on April 19, just a week before her disappearance. Douglas was allowed phone contact with them.
The day after Venus's disappearance, authorities located Douglas in Newport News, Virginia, where he had been living. Venus wasn't with him at the time and he said he hadn't seen her and didn't know her whereabouts. Police also located both of Douglas's vehicles in Virginia and found bloodstains in both of them. The blood was Douglas's, however, not Venus's.
Inside Douglas's truck was some rope, twine, and a receipt from a Wal-Mart store in Ohio for the purchase of a tarp, a shovel, a cap and gloves, dated the day before Venus's disappearance. Tire tracks found at the abduction scene matched the tread on Douglas's truck tires as well.
Douglas said he was in Newport News at the time of Venus's presumed abduction, and witnesses came forward to support this statement. But authorities were able to place him in central Ohio the night before Venus's disappearance, and found evidence that he had been in Michigan the morning she vanished.
Police theorized that Douglas had someone else impersonate him in Virginia to manufacture an alibi, and appealed for this individual to come forward. They later identified the impersonator as Ricky Spencer. A photo of him is posted with this case summary.
In June 2010, Douglas was charged with murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in Venus's case. Spencer was charged with manslaughter. At Douglas's trial in the spring of 2011, Spencer admitted to impersonating Douglas and serving as his alibi.
Douglas was convicted of murder and sentenced to a mandatory term of life in prison without parole, in spite of his defense's arguments that no one could prove Venus was dead. Spencer pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit manslaughter.
Venus's body has never been located. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.
- Michigan State Police
Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated September 21, 2018; picture added.