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Terrilynn Monette Believed to Be Found Dead in Submerged Car

Terrilynn Monette, Missing Schoolteacher, Believed to Have Been Found Dead
Terrilynn Monette
Courtesy Terrilynn Monette

06/10/2013 AT 09:20 AM EDT

A New Orleans bridge has become a makeshift memorial adorned with flower bouquets marking the spot where this weekend a car that contained what police believe is the body of missing elementary school teacher Terrilynn Monette was pulled from the bayou

Although Monette, 26, hasn't been officially identified, and an autopsy will be conducted by a coroner, police said the car and license plate matched her missing car, which was found submerged in Bayou St. John close to a bridge at the corner of Wisner Boulevard and Harrison Avenue, the Times-Picayune reported.

Divers using sonar found the vehicle with a body in the driver's seat on Saturday. Monette had been missing since March 2, when she was seen leaving a bar in her black 2012 Honda Accord after a night spent celebrating her nomination as "Teacher of the Year" in her district.

Members of Monette's family watched the grim discovery and clung to one another as the car was removed from the water, according to the Times-Picayune report.

"We're very upset right now," Monette's father, Terry, told the newspaper. Added family friend Demetria Isidore: "We were out here and they searched these waters the first week. We never thought it would end this way."

Monette, a native of Long Beach, Calif., who graduated from Cal State San Bernadino, had reportedly been "cut off" by a bartender at Parlay's, a bar in the Lakeview section of the city when she was last seen, police told CNN. She had moved to New Orleans as a part of a teaching program to bring stronger educators to impoverished zones within the city.

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