The body of 17-year-old Brissa Romero, missing for over a week, has been recovered from a pond in north suburban Vernon Hills.
Divers made the grim discovery around 1:15 p.m. on Tuesday near Lakeview and Executive Parkways.
Brissa, from Carpentersville, had gone missing on December 4, and her family had been desperately searching for her.
The Lake County Coroner’s office confirmed on Wednesday that the recovered body was indeed Brissa Romero.
Preliminary autopsy results suggested no significant injuries, indicating Brissa’s death was consistent with drowning, according to the coroner’s office.
The family, too distraught to speak, was present at the scene as the search concluded on Tuesday.
Brissa had been en route to a bowling alley in Vernon Hills on the night of her disappearance, intending to attend a holiday party, but she never arrived.
The breakthrough in the search came a week later when cell phone data analysis led authorities to the pond.
A witness had reported seeing a backpack, believed to be Brissa’s, floating on the pond’s edge.
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Subsequent searches revealed her submerged car, which had traveled approximately 60 feet into the pond.
Surveillance footage from a nearby fast-food restaurant showed Brissa walking in and out alone before driving away, minutes before her last cell phone ping near the pond.
Vernon Hills Police Chief Patrick Kreis stated, “Even though we have not found Brissa in this vehicle at this point, it’s our belief that we need to continue to search this pond.”
The pond, located off Lakeview Parkway and Executive Parkway, posed challenges for Brissa, who was unfamiliar with the area.
Investigators suspect she mistakenly went through an embankment into the pond instead of turning at a T-intersection.
Brissa’s sister, Dulce Romero, expressed gratitude for the support and efforts of police and volunteers.
Despite the tragic discovery, she maintained hope, saying, “In my heart, I still believe that she’s out there, but for now, we’ll just keep investigating, and we will find her.”
The Romero family had previously held a vigil for Brissa on Sunday night, seeking answers to her mysterious disappearance.
They are now urging anyone with information to come forward. The family has offered a $14,000 reward for information leading to Brissa’s safe return.
Authorities encourage those with relevant information to contact the Carpentersville Police Department at 847-551-3481.
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