Police authorities say that the car of second-grade teacher Terrilynn Monette, who disappeared March 2 after a night out celebrating her Teacher of the Year nomination, was pulled from a New Orleans bayou on Saturday and that a decomposed body was inside, the Associated Press reports.
Police couldn’t immediately say whether the body was that of Monette, who would have had to cross the waterway to get home.
Monette was a Long Beach, Calif., native who moved to Louisiana to teach. Her family has been flying back and forth from California to look for her. They attended a prayer vigil Friday and appealed for FBI intervention, accusing the New Orleans Police Department of mishandling the case. The department has denied the accusations.
Monette’s mother, Toni Enclade, was among the family members who came to the scene Saturday.
“I don’t understand why it took them so long to find her car,” Enclade told The Times-Picayune. “This is supposedly one of the first places they would have checked. I’m just overwhelmed. It doesn’t make sense.”
Louisiana state Rep. Austin Badon helped spearhead the search. He said he and a volunteer diver resurveyed the waterway and found the car.
“We decided to sonar this area again, and more heavily, and it got a hit,” Badon told The Associated Press.
A diver got into the water and found the car, which was covered with a film when it was pulled out. Badon described the body as “heavily decomposed.”
Read more at the Associated Press.