GRASS VALLEY -- For Kristen Day, it has been a tough month and a half trying to cope with the disappearance of 70-year-old Stan Norman, a Vietnam veteran well-known in the Nevada County community.
"The unknowing has been probably the most detrimental," Day told FOX40. "We had suspicions, we all had thoughts, but we didn’t know for sure and now we do."
According to Nevada County Sheriff's Sgt. Bob Jakobs, on Sunday evening 51-year-old Sean Bryant was booked on a murder charge stemming from Norman’s disappearance.
Norman and his dog, Koko, were last seen in the early morning hours of April 15. His car was found earlier in May in the Chalk Bluff, Red Dog area.
"It’s been a nightmare that you can’t wake up from and I think the news we got last night was kind of that jolt," Day said. "It gets you in the middle of the night and you wake up and go, 'What happened?' I think that’s what happened to the community last night."
Day had been active in creating a Facebook page dedicated to finding Norman while helping with search and rescue efforts and putting together a candlelight vigil earlier in May. She knew Norman through her work with the American Legion and also met Bryant last Veterans Day.
"Coming to the realization that you may have shook hands with a killer, and not only a killer but somebody who took the life of a Vietnam veteran. A man who survived Vietnam just to come back here and have this done to him, it’s definitely shaken up the veteran world, as well as the whole entire community," Day said.
Bryant has been in custody since May 15 on suspicion of torture and other felonies but was rearrested and booked for murder Sunday evening. Jakobs reports Bryant told investigators he was the last person to see Norman.
Upon looking into Bryant's cell phone records, investigators determined his statements about the hours before Norman's disappearance were inconsistent.
Human bones were found in a burn pile at a property on Sadie D Drive in Cascade Shores, according to Jakobs. The bones will be sent for DNA analysis but they are believed to be Norman’s.
"It’s real. We have an opportunity to get some closure and get justice for Stan and bring him home," Day said.