By Mike LaBella
---- — After nearly seven years and numerous searches of the Merrimack River for her missing sister, Linda Morrissette of Lowell finally has the answer she's been waiting for.
Today, Morrissette was told by state police that a foot and ankle bone recovered on the banks of the Merrimack River in West Newbury just east of Haverhill in April, 2011, was positively identified through DNA testing as that of her sister Helena Fells.
Fells, 49, of Dracut was reported missing in 2006.
Fells was last seen in Lowell on Nov. 26, 2006. Police found her parked car near the Merrimack River and a search dog tracked her scent from the car to the river's edge. While it was believed that she had drowned, a search of the river produced no results.
After hearing today about the positive DNA testing, Morrissette said she was relieved.
"I just needed them to tell me," she said.
On April 12, 2011, West Newbury Police notified the Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the Essex District Attorney's Office that an environmental clean-up company had recovered a human foot and ankle bone inside of what appeared to be a female shoe.
Last week, the Essex District Attorney's Office was notified by testers that there was a 99.99 percent probability that the remains were those of Fells.
Morrissette told The Eagle-Tribune that when she was first shown the shoe more than a year ago, she knew it was her sister's shoe.
A complete report will appear in Thursday's edition of The Eagle-Tribune.