An Indianapolis woman who police said vanished under suspicious circumstances last week has been found dead on a river’s sandbar, authorities announced.
Jacqueline Watts, 33, was reported missing Friday afternoon by her family, Columbus police Lt. Matt Harris said at a press conference on Saturday. She’d been planning to travel out of state with her husband.
Her car was found running in a neighborhood of Columbus, Indiana, near her parents’ house. The emergency blinkers were on and one of the car’s doors was open. Watts’ purse and cellphone were inside the vehicle.
“It is my understanding that she was in the area to drop off pets to family that lived nearby,” Harris said.
Officers searching the surrounding area recovered Watts’ body next to the Flatrock River on Saturday morning, less than half a mile from her car.
Asked by a reporter whether Watts may have merely fallen and gotten hurt, Harris replied: “At this point, we’re not sure.”
Police have deemed Watts’ death “suspicious,” The Indy Channel reports. An autopsy has been scheduled for Monday.
An Indianapolis animal rescue group is mourning Watts, who they said was a longtime volunteer and member of their board of directors. Watts was the first person to offer to help visit a venue for an upcoming fundraiser, they said.
“Jackie was always taking home the really sick bunnies that she could nurture back to health, and if that wasn’t possible, she would many times keep them to their end,” Indyclaw Rescue, which specializes in rabbits, posted on Facebook. “We will always love you and will never forget you Jackie.... never.”
About three weeks earlier, two teenagers were found dead in a wooded area about 110 miles north of where Watts’ remains were found.
Abigail Jay Williams, 13, and Liberty Rose Lynn German, 14, were hiking in an area north of Indianapolis on Feb. 13. Authorities believe someone killed them.
Photos taken by the girls just before their deaths show an unidentified man who has been deemed a suspect in the case.
Anyone who recognizes the man is urged to contact police.