Denise Thiem: Body Found in Spain Identified as Hers

Kimberly RipleyLife

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Denise Thiem lived in Arizona. The 41-year-old went missing five months ago as she walked along an ancient Catholic pilgrimage route in northern Spain called the Camino de Santiago. Sadly, a body was discovered on a farm in Spain on Friday. Spanish police confirmed on Saturday the body is that of Denise Thiem.

Just prior to discovering Denise Thiem's body, police detained the man who owns the farm. Spanish television stations have featured reports showing the suspect, whose name is Miguel Ángel Muñoz Blas, handcuffed and being led away by authorities. Police in that region say the man has a police record and that Denise Thiem's death is likely related to reports of recent threats and harassment along the Camino.

Ms. Thiem quit her job in Phoenix in 2014 to travel the world. Prior to arriving in Spain in March, she spent time in Asia. She went missing on April 5-Easter Sunday.

The Camino de Santiago has a big tourist draw. Authorities didn't want to admit that Denise Thiem's disappearance might be related to recent threats made to those along the route for this reason. Pressure from Thiem's family and friends prompted Senator John McCain to appeal to Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last month, requesting that the F.B.I. become involved in the search for the American woman.

The director general of the Spanish police, Ignacio Cosidó, announced positive identification of Denise Thiem's body via Twitter. That message translates into English as, “Following months of intense investigations, our agents have found the body of Denise and detained the alleged perpetrator.”

Close friends and family members of Denise Thiem set up a Facebook page called Help Us Find Denise.

The last entry on the page was clearly made prior to positive identification of her body.

The press are reporting that they have strong reason to believe that the police have located Denise's remains on the...

Posted by Help us Find Denise on Friday, September 11, 2015

A film about the Camino de Santiago called The Way starred actor Martin Sheen. It inspired Denise Thiem to travel there and walk the Catholic pilgrimage. How sad that her lifelong yearning to travel the world ended in tragedy.

Kimberly Ripley
Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and 'Nana' to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.