NEW ORLEANS - The family of Terrilynn Monette began the process of mourning Monday after the Orleans Parish Coroner confirmed the remains found in her car in Bayou St. John were, in fact, Monette’s.
Flowers and a makeshift memorial now line the Harrison Avenue bridge near where her car was found Saturday, a visible sign of the sense of loss that the community felt for the Jefferson Parish teacher, who was last seen at a Lakeview bar in February.
Coroner Frank Minyard said the initial autopsy showed the state of the remains was consistent with them having been submerged for three months. It provided at least one answer to the question on many people’s minds: what exactly happened to Terrilynn Monette?
Slidell Police Officer Mark Michaud was volunteering his time to help search for Monette Saturday. Using his own sonar equipment, he found her black, Honda Accord near the Harrison Avenue bridge.
“It's so sad. Our thoughts and our prayers go out to them and one of the things that happened after this, the entire community came together and I think figuratively came together and hugged this family and tried to stay with them the entire way,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Even though most suspected it, the last glimmer of hope that Monette was alive was extinguished Monday. Her mother Toni Enclade said Monday morning that she may never really have closure.
“I don't understand how she could have any closure to be honest with you. Generally, children are supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around,” said State Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans East.
New Orleans Police said the investigation will now be treated as a traffic fatality with no foul play suspected and Monette no longer a missing person.
Questions still remain about the final snapshot taken by a traffic camera that showed her headed the other way.
“That picture, it showed her car traveling North-bound on Marconi, which would've taken her away from Harrison Avenue,” Badon said.
The NOPD said their detectives will enhance the video to try and get more answers about how she ended up where she did in the Bayou.
With the NOPD saying there was no foul play suspected, the $20,000 Crimestoppers reward will go back to whoever donated it.
In this case, Crimestoppers said Monette's family held fundraisers to raise it, and the money would likely go back to them.