Missing woman's rental car found in pond in southeast Houston

February 15, 2012 8:28:52 PM PST
The four-month-long search for missing 82-year-old Lillian High came to a tragic end at a pond in southeast Houston.

Police say High was known to drive by the small pond on Freehill at Kurland on her way to and from work. Her car was found Wednesday morning in the water about 60 feet off shore.

For the last four months, this small pond in the middle of a southeast Houston neighborhood was the watery grave where Lillian High's body came to rest. Police say her remains were found Wednesday morning, still inside the black rental car she was last known to be driving.

HP Auto Wrecker driver David Bolton said, "It was embanked into the silt in the water. You could tell it went off at a high rate of speed."

Bolton is one of the wrecker drivers who helped pull the vehicle out.

"I'm just glad the family is getting closure," he said.

A Houston police dive team targeted this pond after recently deciding to conduct training exercises in small bodies of water relatively close to High's home on the off chance that they might turn something up.

"It's just a needle in a haystack," said John Cannon, HPD spokesperson. "They didn't know how deep the water was or anything."

Police now know the pond is about eight feet deep and the water is murky. A diver's rope snagged on what they later determined to be the car.

Cannon explained, "It doesn't appear as if there is any foul play or any damage to the vehicle indicating other than an accident."

High disappeared October 2, 2011. The 82-year-old never showed up for work at a nearby Chase bank. A Silver Alert was issued across the state of Texas. Police spent hundreds of man-hours trying to find her. Even volunteers scoured the area, hoping for a clue that would lead to her safe return. Little did they all know she was in a pond less than four miles from home the entire time.

Police say High was found with the name badge she wore at the bank. They say there were no visible signs of trauma to the body. An autopsy will determine the cause of death.

High's family says for the first time in four months, they is at peace.

"I think the lord just had to wait until we were all prepared for it and maybe it took us that length of time to do," said High's daughter, Amy McClure.

The news was hard to take for McClure.

"It opened up wounds and made us feel like, this is real," she said.

But at least the worry is over.

"I just pray it was quick and she was gone before she hit the water," McClure said.