CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A family is grieving after a body found in Colonial Heights in December was identified as a missing 19-year-old Chesterfield man.

Marcus James Johnson, 19, of the 2100 block of Esquire Road in Chesterfield, was reported missing by his family on Nov. 27, 2022, after being last seen on Nov. 16.

Johnson’s body was found on Dec. 21 near the woodline of the 1300 block of Yacht Basin Drive in Colonial Heights. However, it wasn’t until Thursday, Jan. 3, 2023, that the body was confirmed to be Johnson’s.

Phyllis Hudson, Johnson’s aunt, spoke with 8News about the months of waiting before hearing the news of the positive identification.

“His father called me and said the body they had found was Marcus,” Hudson said. “We were on the phone and I just broke down in the store crying and it was just overwhelming.”

Hudson says she raised Johnson from the age of 9 to 18 years old.

“I’ve known Marcus all his life since he was a baby,” she said. “Marcus was real quiet. He wasn’t a loud person. He was humble.” 

Hudson says she started preparing herself for the worst when Johnson stopped responding to her texts in November.

“I kind of prepared myself because I knew he had been gone for maybe over six weeks,” she said. “I text him he wouldn’t text back.” 

The last words she ever shared with her nephew were some back-and-forth text messages in early November.

“I texted him on November 8th. I said ‘Marcus, hey how are you?’ He texted on the 9th and said ‘I’m good, how are you?'” Hudson recalled.

Earlier this week, 8News spoke to the man who found Johnson’s body, Tommy Douglas, who said he wasn’t surprised when he first saw the plastic tarp nestled in the woods across the street from his home. He said it’s not uncommon for people to toss beer bottles, cans, or pieces of trash along the side of the road.

“I wish I had come over sooner because I had seen it probably a couple of weeks early,” Douglas said. 

Colonial Heights Police Department originally investigated the incident as a death investigation but have since said they suspect foul play was involved. Police said they believe Johnson was killed at another location before being moved to Yacht Basin Drive.

Hudson says she now wonders if things might have turned out differently if Johnson had continued living with her.

“After he finished high school he told me he wanted to go stay with his dad because my husband had died in October of 2020,” Hudson said. “I just feel like he left too soon.” 

Police are continuing to investigate the incident. Anyone with information on this incident is encouraged to contact Senior Detective C. Velasquez at 804-520-9329.