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Ashley Max Domenic Pereira was 33 when he went missing from Mississauga, Ont. in 2002. (Source: Interpol)

It was three months of deep mystery and speculation until a first-degree murder charge was laid in connection with the discovery of human remains found near Port Burwell, Ont. on Monday.

Still residents in for nearby communities are still looking for answers.

Kerrie Kipp watched as police converged on Lakeshore Line just east of Port Burwell in May, with a helicopter lifting from the Lake Erie escarpment what was rumoured to be a freezer containing human remains.

The local resident says, "It was unsettling not knowing who the victim was and whether the perpetrator was someone local."

And Kipp hopes the latest developments are a step toward closure for all involved.

Elgin County OPP now say the victim was 33-year-old Ashley Max Domenic Pereira, who went missing 17 years ago, and was last seen in his hometown of Mississauga, Ont.

On Monday, 45-year-old Chad Reu-Waters was charged with first-degree murder in connection with Pereira's death, and with committing an indignity to a human body.

Almost halfway between Mississauga and Port Burwell is the town of Simcoe, where a business reported to be owned by Reu-Waters remains open – except when CTV News tried to enter.

A man identified by neighbouring business owners as 22-year-old Samuel Waters quickly closed the door and locked it.

Waters is Reu-Waters' son. He has also been charged with committing an indignity to a human body but has been released on bail.

He would have been about five when Pereira was last seen.

Local residents say Reu-Waters and his son live in small-town Jarvis, a ten minute drive east of Simcoe.

Al Brookhouse has lived in Jarvis for over a decade and says any community – even a quiet one like Jarvis - can find itself in this type of spotlight.

"It happens everywhere. You can't go on based on a couple of people."

With so few details being released at this point, residents in all four communities will be watching closely as the court proceedings get underway.