A 26-year-old elementary school teacher has been missing from New Orleans for almost two weeks, according to new reports from CNN. The New Orleans Police Department launched a marine search for her earlier today.
Terrilynn Monette, who moved to New Orleans as a part of the teachNOLA program, an initiative to improve teaching in impoverished zones, was last seen on March 2 at Parlay’s, a bar in New Orleans’ Lakeview section.
Monette had been celebrating her “Teacher of the Year” nomination with several friends. According to bar manager Anna Boudousque, Monette had to be “cut-off” after drinking too much. Around 3 am, too intoxicated to drive, Monette told her friends that she was going to “sleep it off” in her black 2012 Honda Accord before driving home. She was last seen around 4 am, talking to an unidentified man in Parlay’s parking lot. Authorities tell CNN that the man has been interviewed and is not considered a suspect.
Her cell phone reportedly stopped working four hours before she disappeared, according to police, and has not been turned on since.
No other clues remain. A week after her disappearance around 300 volunteers and police joined her family to search the City Park area to look for Monette, who is an African-American female, standing 5’8” and weighing 180 pounds, and was last seen wearing a pink and yellow sweater and jeans. They found no signs of her. Her family, along with co-workers from the elementary school she teaches at in Harvey, donned t-shirts with pictures of her face ironed on to them. Co-worker Ronda Jones told WWLTV that the large turnout was “motivating.”
The New Orleans Police Department, along with Equusearch, a Houston-based non-profit known for assisting with several missing persons cases in Louisiana, including a case last year that turned up the body of a missing man in the New Orleans area, launched an in-depth marine search today. The group is combing waterways in the area in hopes of discovering Monette’s car. Divers are on standby.
Monette’s mother, Toni Enclade, told CNN she believes someone has taken her daughter against her will, noting that she just became godmother to her niece and would never leave on her own. She described her daughter as a “beautiful” person.
In a 2011 video, Monette can be seen talking about her decision to leave her native California and teach in a low-performing area of New Orleans, saying that she had always wanted to be a teacher and New Orleans, with its need for “passionate” teachers, was the perfect city for her.
According to CNN, in her first year of teaching second grade at Woodland West Elementary School, Monette turned one of the lowest-performing classes into one of the highest.
“I absolutely do not regret my decision to move out here,” she says in the 2011 video, noting that moving to New Orleans was “one of the best decisions” she’s ever made.
The New Orleans Police Department said they have currently have no suspects or persons of interest in the disappearance.