Ester L. Westenbarger was last seen leaving a bar in November 2009

By Steve Helling
June 23, 2020 11:29 AM
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Credit: Howard County Sheriff Office

Police in Indiana say they have found the remains of a woman who vanished nearly 11 years ago.

According to a press release from the Howard County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to a retention pond in Kokomo, Indiana, on Wednesday afternoon after they received a 911 call from someone who reported seeing what appeared to be a submerged algae-covered vehicle.

Authorities arrived and called out a dive team. They pulled the car out of the water and discovered a woman's body inside. The vehicle was a 2005 Cadillac CTS with the Ohio tag MS ESTER.

The coroner's office has performed a preliminary autopsy and found that the remains are most likely those of Ester L. Westenbarger. She was last seen in November 2009 walking towards her car in the parking lot of a bar, according to an updated news release from the sheriff's office.

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Credit: Howard County Sheriff Office

She was never seen again, and a missing persons report was filed on November 13, 2009.

The case had gone cold. She would now be 61 years old.

Westenbarger's daughter, Mathilda Rood, confirmed her mother's identification in a Facebook post. "The car and remains found this past Wednesday in Kokomo, IN were our mother," she wrote on Monday. "I received the call this morning and dental identification has confirmed 100% it is her. My brother & I will be having some sort of memorial service here in Ohio for her so all of her friends, family and loved ones can celebrate and share her life with us."

"I want to thank everyone who has prayed for her, who has prayed for us, who has thought of us and anyone else who has been so kind as to send their condolences in this time," Rood continued.

The case is still ongoing, but police say in the press release that they don't suspect foul play.