'World Traveler' woman likely committed suicide, autopsy reports

By: ABC News Email
By: ABC News Email
Leanne Hecht Bearden disappeared Jan. 17 while taking a walk, just weeks after returning from a round-the-world trip with her husband. 
(ABC News)

Leanne Hecht Bearden disappeared Jan. 17 while taking a walk, just weeks after returning from a round-the-world trip with her husband. (ABC News)

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San Antonio, TX (ABC) -- A Texas woman who went missing in January likely killed herself just hours after she disappeared, officials said today, basing their finding on preliminary autopsy results.

Leanne Bearden, 33, appears to have died of asphyxiation due to hanging, the autopsy found. However, final results will not be released until toxicology test results are in.

Bearden had told her husband that she was going out for a walk near her in-laws' home in Garden Ridge, a suburb of San Antonio, on Jan. 17. She never returned.

Multiple law enforcement agencies searched for Bearden, who had just returned from a two-year trip around the world with her husband. In spite of the search no leads were found until Friday, when a Garden Ridge resident spotted Bearden's body in wooded area behind his home.

His home was within one mile of where Bearden was last seen.

The Bearden family and the Hecht family (Bearden's maiden name) released a statement Friday thanking the local police for their help searching for Leanne Bearden.

"Our family is understandably devastated by the news of the recovery of the remains of our beloved Leanne," read the statement in part. "We ask for your continued prayers and good wishes for our family. Leanne was a lovely and remarkable young woman, and we will all miss her greatly."

Earlier this month Bearden's husband said that the 33-year-old woman was "anxious" about returning home after their travels.

Her family also said that there was a "strong possibility" she ran away.

"She was having some difficulties adjusting back to life in the United States after being on the road," Joshua Bearden told "Good Morning America."

"Traveling around the world and seeing all these things and then coming back -- obviously she was anxious. I think anybody would be anxious in that situation," he added.

Joshua Bearden had speculated that his wife may have left voluntarily, even though she left the house with no credit cards or cell phone and only $60 in cash.

Before her body was found, Joshua Bearden expressed his hope she was still alive.

"She's a budgeter, she could have stretched this money out. She could have stretched this out," he said. "I hope that she's just taking a time-out or playing survivor-woman or something like that. That's actually what keeps me going."

Leanne Bearden's family had posted a statement earlier this month on a Facebook page dedicated to her, explaining she may have left voluntarily.

The couple was planning to move back to Denver to settle down after their trek around the world.


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