NEW ORLEANS — A Texas group that helped search the island of Aruba for Alabama teen Natalee Holloway and helped searches in 2010 and 2011 for men whose bodies were found in the Mississippi River is in New Orleans looking for a schoolteacher who’s been missing since March 2.
A small crew from Texas Equusearch launched a boat in Bayou St. John near New Orleans City Park on Thursday and used sonar equipment to probe the bayou’s murky bottom for 26-year-old Terrilyn Monette or her car. Monette was last seen leaving a New Orleans bar not far from the bayou in early morning hours of March 2.
Her mother, Toni Enclade, watched Thursday’s search, at times unable to contain her tears.
“I can’t begin to express how I feel regarding this, that I have total strangers reaching out to help me locate my daughter,” Enclade said. “It really means a lot to me. Terrilyn, she’s such a beautiful person. She’s so beautiful, and I just want her back. I want her back.”
The Equusearch group, based in the Houston suburb of Dickinson, found cars on Thursday but none was Monette’s, police said. On Wednesday, it searched City Park’s ponds and lagoons.
Customs and Louisiana State Police helicopters flew over Lake Pontchartain and other areas as part of the search, city police said.
The search was expected to continue Friday and through the weekend.
Enclade said the worst part is not knowing what happened to her daughter.
“Is she being, you know, taken care of, or — it’s just the not knowing. That’s the hurtful thing because I can’t reach out and touch her to make sure she’s OK.”
Holloway’s body was never found, though hundreds of volunteers searched Aruba and the ocean floor nearby.
Equusearch founder and director Tim Miller knows exactly how Enclade feels. His teenage daughter, Laura, was kidnapped and killed in 1984.
“I remember the helpless and hopeless and lonely feelings,” he said. “I made a promise to God and Laura I’d never leave a family alone.”
Miller created Equusearch, originally a mounted search and recovery team, in August 2000 in his daughter’s memory. It’s composed of volunteers, many who are experienced horse owners and many who have missing loved ones.