The ex-boyfriend of a 29-year-old woman found dead in the trunk of her own car in Hamilton on Wednesday has been charged with her murder and was on probation in connection with prior domestic violence incidents involving her, police said Thursday.

Holly Hamilton was last seen on Jan. 14 in the area of Barton Street and Fairfield Avenue and was reported missing the following day.

At the time, police said Hamilton had never gone missing before and her disappearance was “out of character.”

The Hamilton Police Service’s homicide unit subsequently took over the investigation and on Wednesday, investigators confirmed that Hamilton’s body had been discovered stuffed into the trunk of her car in an underground parking garage on Barlake Avenue.

The cause of death has not yet been released but on Thursday, a suspect who police identified as Hamilton’s ex-boyfriend Justin Dumpfrey, 30, was charged with her murder.

The couple shares a young daughter.

“(Hamilton had a) beautiful soul, a sweet, loving person,” a family member told CTV News Toronto outside the courthouse Thursday. “(She was) full of fun, full of life. She’s gone too soon.”

A post-mortem examination is scheduled for Friday, and Oleniuk said it appeared Hamilton had been dead “for some time” when she was found.

Det. Sgt. Dave Oleniuk told reporters that Dumpfrey was at the downtown Hamilton courthouse Wednesday, appearing in court on an unrelated matter when they arrested him in connection with Hamilton’s death.

Before Hamilton’s body was found, police said they were looking to speak to the ex-boyfriend, who was not officially deemed to be a suspect at the time.

Police vehicles were seen outside Dumpfrey’s residence on Thursday morning.

A family member commented to CP24 earlier Thursday that the “system had failed” Hamilton, as she was previously a victim of domestic violence.

Oleniuk said “police had been previously involved in (Dumpfrey and Hamilton’s) relationship due to violence,” and Dumpfrey had been charged criminally at least once as a result.

He added that Dumpfrey was on probation, “and there were some conditions on the (probation) order in relation to (Hamilton).”

Along with several members of Hamilton’s family, Lenore Lukasik-Foss of the Women Abuse Working Group of Hamilton attended the court date to show support.

Foss said “serious action” needs to be taken across the country to combat domestic abuse against women.

“We need to recognize that this is not a fluke. Domestic violence is real and persistent,” Foss told reporters. “(We must) stand up to jokes, challenge behaviour… But most of all listen to the women who are dealing with this and believe them and don’t blame them for the situation that they’re in.”

Hamilton’s brother, Cass, said the family is struggling with her loss but have been met with “nothing but love” from the community.

“Strangers, people that I’ve even had arguments with before (have reached out). It has brought people together,” he said.

“It’s so surreal. There are ups and downs. We have a Jamaican background so we’re trying to celebrate her life more than mourn that she’s dead. There are tears and mixed emotions.”

Cass went on to urge those who know anyone dealing with domestic-related issues to reach out and offer any support they can.

“I just want everyone who’s going through it or has been through it to know that it isn’t right. If you see domestic happening, try and catch it before it’s too late,” he said.

“My sister’s at peace but my family is not going to be... It’s devastating but there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Dumpfrey briefly appeared in a Hamilton courtroom on Thursday morning, where a second-degree murder charge was formally laid.

The charge has not been proven in court.

The judge also ordered that Dumpfrey refrain from contacting a number of people, including multiple members of Hamilton’s family.

He has been remanded into custody until his next court appearance on Jan. 24.