NEW ORLEANS – The car of missing Jefferson Parish schoolteacher Terrilynn Monette was pulled from a bayou near Harrison and Wisner Avenues Saturday around noon.
A body was found inside of the car in the driver's seat and Representative Austin Badon, who has been championing the search for Monette, said they are "100 percent sure" that the body inside is Monette, but that an autopsy by the coroner would be needed to confirm the fact.
"We're very upset right now," said Monette's father Terry.
"Unbelievable," said Demetria Isidore, a family friend. "We were out here and they searched these waters the first week. The guys from Texas searched the waters. We never thought it would end this way."
The body was found by a diver using sonar equipment. The car was found and the license plate was found to match that of Monette's missing car. Wreckers, the coroner's office and members of Monette's family raced to the scene.
Slidell Police spokesman Daniel Seuzeneau said the diver who found the car is Officer Mark Michaud, who has been volunteering his time to the Monette family as a diving recovery expert.
"I’m happy (to have helped)." said Michaud. "It’s not something everyone wants to do, but you know what, she has her baby, she knows where she is, she can start the process of … not know where she is."
Members of Monette's family, including her mother, who was in town for a recent vigil, were emotional and clung to each other as the car was removed.
The coroner's office is conducting an autopsy to determine the cause of death and to positively identify Monette's body. The NOPD has characterized the case as an "ongoing investigation." They will continue to try to determine if foul play was involved.
Eyewitness News investigator Mike Perlstein said the NOPD will look back at the search to see if anything was missed and to try to determine why Monette's vehicle went into the water. .
Monette had been missing since March 2, when she was last seen driving away from a bar on Harrison Avenue following a night out with friends.
A massive search and several vigils had been held to find the popular teacher from Jefferson Parish, who had recently received a teaching award.
The search included several state and local organizations and groups had spent weeks pulling dozens of cars from Bayou St. John without success.