Family of missing teacher holds out hope as search continues

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wwltv.com

Posted on March 14, 2013 at 10:40 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 14 at 10:41 PM

Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS - It's been a long 13 days for family and friends of Terrilynn Monette, 26, who was last seen outside Parlay’s Bar in Lakeview nearly two weeks ago.

Thursday night, wearing t-shirts with Monette’s photograph, dozens gathered to pray for Monette and her family outside Parlay’s.

A man who never met Monette organized the vigil. He said he was touched by her family’s determination.

“Right now, everything else in my life is put on hold. This is my priority right now,” said Brown, who took a private plane over City Park and New Orleans East Thursday to help with the search.

“I'm never going to let her go again,” Toni Enclade said through tears as she spoke to the circle of people who had gathered in to support her daughter.

“Just knowing that I'm going to see my baby again, that's what's keeping me going,” said Enclade. “I feel my baby, I feel here right here, she's right here with me.”

Monette, a Woodland West Elementary School teacher, is originally from California, and moved to New Orleans to teach.

Her mother is finding solace in letters she has received from children in her daughter's class.

“'Dear Ms. Toni, Ms. Monette is in my prayers for a safe return,'” read Enclade from a bundle of letters she in her purse. “I have at least a hundred cards from the kids they’ve written.”

“We know she's still out there, and we're not going to give up,” said Monica Byrne, a Woodland West Elementary School teacher.

Thursday, NOPD helicopters scoured Bayou St. John, Lake Pontchartrain, and New Orleans East, while the Houston-based volunteer team EquuSearch combed Bayou St. John between Mirabeau Avenue and Robert E. Lee Boulevard for Monette's black 2012 Honda Accord.

Officials believe Monette may have passed the bayou after leaving Parlay’s.

So far EquuSearch has discovered about half a dozen cars sunk into Bayou St. John over its two-day search, but said none belong to Monette. An NOPD dive team is on standby to check on cars EquuSearch finds with its boat and sonar.

“We've got plenty of resources, a lot of dedication, and I think now we just need a little bit of luck to go on with it,” said Tim Miller, EquuSearch founder and director.

Miller said his team will continue searching until Monette is found or they’ve exhausted all resources. A stronger sonar machine will arrive Sunday.

NOPD and EquuSearch have also combed City Park’s lagoons and bodies of water, but have not turned up any clues. Still, Miller said he and his team have not ruled City Park out as a possibility.

But Enclade believes her daughter will not turn up in those areas.

“Honestly, I don't believe she's out here. I believe someone has her. That's how I feel. I believe someone has her,” said Enclade.

Brown is organizing a golf tournament at Belle Terre Golf and Country Club in LaPlace April 7th to raise money to increase the reward for information on Monette’s disappearance.

For more information, contact Brown at (504) 289-5955 or tntvend@yahoo.com.

Meanwhile, Enclade said she plans to fly back to California Saturday to care for responsibilities at work. The rest of Monette’s immediate family have already returned to California, she said.

Enclade said she will not give up and plans to return to New Orleans at the beginning of April.

If you have any information that could help in the search, call police or Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. With Crimestoppers, you don’t have to leave your name and could get a cash reward.

 

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