Body of Missing Florida Mother of Three Found in Pond in Submerged SUV
The body of a missing Florida woman has been found, bringing a tragic end to a three-week long search.
Shortly after noon on September 25, Stephanie Hollingsworth left her home in the Orlando suburb of Belle Isle, Florida, to run some errands. She left her cell phone at home. She got into her silver Chevy Tahoe and swung by a bank drive-through, where she withdrew $20 in cash. Later, she was seen on surveillance video at a nearby Wal-Mart.
Surveillance video showed nothing out of the ordinary, and Hollingsworth did not appear to be in any distress in the footage. Her debit and credit cards were not used again.
For weeks, people in the tight-knit Belle Isle community passed out flyers, conducted ground searches, and posted tips online. But on Saturday afternoon, searchers using a drone discovered the Tahoe submerged in a retention pond. Divers discovered Hollingsworth inside.
In a statement to Fox 35 News, family friend Larry Miles said that Hollingsworth’s husband and children were "all heartbroken today, just as they have been for 3 weeks. Today brought closure so that they can all now grieve."
Hollingsworth, 50, worked as a yoga instructor and has three sons, ages 21, 17, and 15. She was well-known in her community, and her neighbors and friends told PEOPLE that she always had a smile on her face and was willing to help others. After her disappearance, Hollingsworth's husband told PEOPLE that she would never leave without telling people where she was going.
"This isn't like her at all," Scott Hollingsworth told PEOPLE at the time. "She's not the type of person to go away for even a few hours without letting someone know where she was. She loves her boys and would never voluntarily be away for this long."
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After Hollingsworth's disappearance, social media erupted with theories about her disappearance, including speculation that her husband was involved in the case.
In a statement late last week, Belle Isle Police Chief Laura Houston sought to quash the rumors. “Her husband, Scott Hollingsworth and his immediate family have been ruled out as persons of interest in her disappearance," Houston said. "Scott has been exceedingly cooperative with us throughout the investigation and has supplied all the information requested by detectives."
In an interview with PEOPLE before the grim discovery, Scott Hollingsworth said that he just wanted his wife back. "She's a good mom, a good woman," he said. "The boys and I miss her very much."
Authorities have not yet commented on how the vehicle ended up in the retention pond. The Hollingsworth family will prepare a private memorial service for a later date.