BOULDER, Colo. -- Boulder police have "tentatively" identified a dismembered torso found in a dumpster as a missing Boulder mother, and they are asking for help in finding the rest of her body.
Investigators believe Ashley Mead, 25, was killed in Boulder and her body at least partially dismembered just outside of Shreveport, La.
"It is believed that a portion of Ashley Mead’s body could be in a purple suitcase. If anyone sees a suitcase placed in an odd location, they are asked not to touch it and to contact their local police department immediately," said Shannon Cordingly, a spokeswoman with the Boulder Police Department.
Cordingly said Mead's body parts may have been discarded in a variety of communities the suspect passed through after the homicide.
Adam Densmore, the father of Mead's child, Winter, has been arrested on charges of first-degree murder.
"They were on-again, off-again a lot. He was very, very manipulative and cruel," said Morgan Jeknavorian, one of Ashley's closest friends in Louisiana. "He tore her down a lot, but I don't think he was ever physically abusive."
Jeknavorian said that Densmore and Mead had broken up years ago, but that she moved to Boulder when she found out she was pregnant so that her daughter could know her father.
"They lived together, but it was not a romantic or sexual relationship," said Jeknavorian. "He never really worked. She was the bread-winner, and he watched Winter."
But Jeknavorian said that Mead recently met someone, and decided to tell Densmore about it last week.
"She told him about it, and he cried, and then he apologized to her. But then he kept drinking, and he would say 'I’m drinking because of you. You’ve made me an alcoholic,'" said Jeknavorian, who had been talking and texting with Mead all week. "I think that he just saw that she was so happy, and he was just so miserable. I don’t know. I think that he just snapped."
Mead and her daughter, Winter, had been reported missing Feb. 14, after Mead did not show up for work. Winter was found on Feb. 15 with her father. Police said she was unharmed and was placed in the temporary care of Child Protective Services in Oklahoma.?
Boulder police said that Densmore’s exact travel route between Feb. 12 through Feb. 15 is still under investigation, but they believe he left Boulder on the evening of Feb. 12.
From there, he traveled south to Raton, N.M., and continued south and east through the Texas panhandle before arriving in Haughton, La., on the evening of Feb. 13.
On the morning of Feb. 14, police said Densmore drove to Conway, Ark., where he spent the night. On the morning of Feb. 15, he left Conway, Ark., and stopped in Okmulgee, Okla., before he was found and arrested just west of Tulsa, Okla. at approximately 1:30 p.m.
"She was a beautiful, beautiful lady," said Claudia Bunce, Mead's mother, who asked that the focus now be on remembering Ashley. "I just really want this to be about her."
Staff with Boulder County Head Start, where Ashley worked as a teacher intern since October 2016, issued a statement Friday, remembering Ashley's "bubbly personality, her radiant love for her baby girl, and her zany clothing choices."
"She was a dreamer and a goal setter with lots of love for all," the statement read. "We are holding Ashley and her daughter, Winter Daisy, and their entire family in our hearts."
Friends are planning a memorial service in Ashley's honor on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 2:30 p.m. The event will take place at the Boulder Public Library's Main Branch Boulder Creek room.
"Ashley and Winter frequented the libraries in Boulder, and librarians we spoke to said that they recognized her," stated Owen Brown, a friend of Ashley's, in a statement. "We will invite the community to share loving thoughts, memories, and wishes for this beautiful woman. Please wear bright colors, tie dye, or other uplifted [sic] clothing in memory of this sweet friend."
Friends have also set up a GoFundMe account "to assist with any cost that may come with the task of bringing Ashley and Winter and all of their things home safe."
Meanwhile, anyone with information regarding Mead's remains is asked to contact the Boulder Police Department at (303) 441-1974.
Those who have information but wish to remain anonymous may contact the Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Tips may also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at crimeshurt.com.