Harvey school teacher Terrilyn Monette was last seen in Lakeview on March 2. Her family is in town hoping to continue to keep her name out in the public eye. They held church services today open to the public and police continue to search for new leads.
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“After you go about 2 foot down you can’t see anything,” diver Russell Mitchell said.
For the past two days salvage crews have worked to pull cars from Bayou St. John.
It’s all part of the search for missing teacher Terrilyn Monette; spearheaded by State Rep. Austin Badon.
He wants to make sure the bayou doesn’t hold information critical in her early March disappearance.
“Cars are stolen and they’re dumped out here,” Badon said. “Yesterday we pulled out some cars that didn’t have VIN numbers on the dashboard.” “Some of them didn’t have license plates.”
As many as 20-vehicles were identified last month when workers with Wildlife and Fisheries began searching waterways.
So far, the NOPD says 7 have been identified as stolen.
All vehicles recovered will be thoroughly investigated.
“Many of those cars were reported stolen from many, many year ago,” New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said.
There are other concerns.
The sheer number of submerged vehicles raises questions about environmental impact.
“Some of them are extremely dilapidated conditions,” Jeff Dauzat said. “They’re rusted; they’re falling apart.”
Jeff Dauzat is with the Department of Environmental Quality.
He says cars contain contaminants like mercury, battery acid, transmission and other fluids.
“Oils are contaminates, gas is a contaminant,” Dauzat explained. “It can kill fish it could kill birds, it can kill turtles, snakes; anything that’s in the bayou.”
He says it’s best to pull the cars out before contaminants leak into the bayou.
For some the effort is too little too late.
“Yesterday I remember we did find a relatively old car,” Badon said. “Some of the guys were thinking that car went back to the 70′s.” “But we did find a few cars that were from the later part of the 90′s and early 2000.”
Bayou St. John is maintained and controlled by Orleans Levee District, City Park and other city and state agencies.
The search for missing teacher Terrilyn Monette continues as search crews drag out cars from Bayou St. John. Meet the men behind the mission. (Alyson Titkemeyer)
Monette was last seen over a month ago leaving a popular bar in Lakeview.
New Orleans police and a specialized search company from Texas checked areas of Lakeview, Gentilly, and City Park where Monette may have traveled but found no sign of the woman.
State Rep. Austin Badon requested that the state agents get involved.
Wednesdays search included the use of ATVs in wooded areas and a boat on Lake Pontchartrain. Future plans could also include a search plane.
Also Wednesday, Crimestoppers announced the reward in the case had reached $20,000.
“It’s been a long five weeks,” said Toni Enclade Monday afternoon at the NOPD’s Third District Station.
Enclade is the mother of missing teacher Terrilyn Monette. She was speaking at a podium during a Crimestoppers news conference with family, police, and others behind her.
Crimestoppers was announcing that thanks to donations, the reward in the case reached $19,600. Crimestoppers says it’s the largest reward in recent history for a case that has also attracted the most calls in the same period of time.
But as family members pleaded in front of the cameras for their nightmare to end, the “missing” signs that all but wallpapers some areas of New Orleans were beginning to dwindle.
“It’s not going to get lost. As long as my eyes are open, it’s not going to get lost,” said Enclade when asked if she was worried the public might forget about her missing daughter.
Monette was last seen outside of a Lakeview bar. Search crews checked area bayous for her vehicle but found nothing. Police have also spoken with a few joggers who may have been in the area during the early morning hours when Monette disappeared.
Family members insist Monette is still alive. They believe she is being held against her will somewhere.
But New Orleans police added no new information Monday afternoon about the case. In fact, they wouldn’t even answer questions.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.
New Orleans police say they’ve spoken with the jogger they were looking for in connection with the Terrilyn Monette case.
They’ve also talked with several other men and women who were jogging in City Park around the time the teacher’s car was recorded by a traffic camera at Harrison Avenue and Marconi Drive.
Police are hoping the joggers saw something that could solve the case of the missing teacher.
Detectives say they’re working with the information they were given by the joggers.
Officer Hilal B. Williams sent this statement to local media:
“Within hours of the radio and TV broadcasts, we received seventeen tips about the Marconi Drive jogger. Detectives spoke to the runner, as well as several other men and women who were running in City Park at that time. Detectives are working with the information they were given.”
New Orleans police released a detailed list of events on the night Terrilyn Monette went missing.
They say a jogger passed through the intersection of Marconi Drive and Harrison Avenue about five to ten minutes after Monette drove her car through the same intersection.
Police say her night started in the Marigny and was followed by dinner at a restaurant on Veterans Boulevard in Metairie.
Officers say Monette and her male friend then met three other people at Parlay’s in Lakeview around midnight.
They say this is what they know about the rest of her night.
At 12:58 a.m. her cell phone died.
At 3:30 a.m. she went to her car with one of her friends.
At 4:15 a.m. the man left.
He also told police Monette passed out in her car.
At 5:13 a.m. Monette’s car left Parlay’s.
The N.O.P.D. says she was last recorded on a traffic camera driving alone at Marconi Drive and Harrison Avenue just before the jogger passed the intersection.
“If anyone knows who that jogger was, or if you were jogging in City Park that morning, please come forward. Maybe that person saw something that can help the investigation”, said Lt. Christopher Kalka.
Officers say Monette was not cut off at the bar.
They say according to witnesses she did not consume an excessive amount of drinks.
They’ve also received 94 Crimestoppers tips.
If you have any information call 504-822-1111.