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AURORA, Colo. — A local family is still reeling at the news their loved one is dead.

An Aurora missing person case turned into a homicide investigation when Aurora police told FOX31 that the remains found in the southern Colorado town of Aguilar were positively identified as those of LeBrea Jackson.

“A big part of us is gone. A big part of us is gone. It’ll never be the same again,” said Ruby Jackson, LeBrea’s aunt. “My heart fell. I was hoping for the best, but in a way, I was expecting the worst. You have to.”

“Loving,” “joyful” and hardworking” are just a few words Ruby used to describe her niece.

Jackson was reported missing from Aurora on Dec. 23 after not showing up to a family gathering. On Jan. 3, APD put out a picture of LeBrea asking for the public’s help locating her.

On Tuesday, police said Jackson’s body was found.

“I just want ya’ll to know that LaBrea was a strong, self-driven young lady who loved her kids,” Ruby said.

If there’s one thing that hurts Ruby the most, it’s that two little boys will now grow up without a mother.

“We love them boys. That’s most important, you know, just don’t worry about your kids, because I know how you are about your kids. They’re going to be just fine,” Ruby said.

LaBrea Jackson told family members she was on the way to their holiday dinner, but had to pick up her boyfriend first. That boyfriend was arrested on an outstanding warrant in Texas on Christmas Eve.

“He was a parasite that leashed on to her. That’s what he was,” said Ruby.

We asked police whether they’re investigating Jackson’s boyfriend in her death and they would not comment. The investigation is ongoing.