LSU student Kori Gauthier identified as missing body found in the Mississippi River
"This is a difficult conclusion for all of us, but we hope this will bring closure for the Gauthier family,” LSU police said.
The search for missing LSU freshman Kori Gauthier has come to a tragic end. A body retrieved from the Mississippi River in St. John the Baptist Parish was confirmed to be hers on Wednesday.
Gauthier, 18, went missing on April 7. A search began in earnest as her car was found seemingly abandoned by the I-10 Mississippi River Bridge in Louisiana after another driver crashed into it, KATC reported. LSU Police stated that there was no sign of Gauthier. Only her cell phone and wallet were inside the vehicle.
“When they swerved over and cut lanes, all I saw was a parked car so I locked up my brakes because it was either the white car or the 18-wheeler,” Devin Jones, the driver of the car that collided with Gauthier’s told WAFB 9.
Authorities involved in the search included the Baton Rouge Police Department, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Attorney General, Louisiana State Police, K9 Mercy, and 300 volunteers. Search dogs were also utilized for the young woman who grew up in the Baton Rouge community and in Opelousas and loved to dance.
Her family reached out to the public for help, support and even offered a reward. Social media shared images of Gauthier to bring more attention to the Louisiana State University student’s disappearance. Prayer vigils were also held.
“As a student, I feel like I have to do something. Like there’s no way I can sit back and let this go without me being on the ground and trying to do something to help out,” Bria Joseph, a first-year student who attended the vigil, told WVLA.
On Tuesday, a body was pulled from the waters and LSU Police, who say they do not suspect foul play, confirmed it was Gauthier.
“Since Kori was first reported missing, the LSU Police Department, Baton Rouge Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies and volunteers have taken exhaustive measures to locate her and, in the process, to determine what led to her disappearance,” said LSU Chief of Police Bart Thompson. “This is a difficult conclusion for all of us, but we hope this will bring closure for the Gauthier family.”
Thompson says their investigation convinced them that she was not the victim of a crime.
“Based on cell phone tracking, video footage and a timeline of the events related to this case – combined with other evidence we shared with Kori’s parents that we are not at liberty to disclose publicly out of respect for their privacy – we have concluded that there was no criminal activity or foul play involved.”
Spencer Gauthier, Kori’s uncle, helped organize a search for his niece. He thanked everyone for their support and said the healing process could now begin even though it was not the end result Kori’s loved ones had wanted.
“Life is worth living. In all honesty, life is worth living,” he said in the video. “Never give up. As you guys can see, a nation of people came together for my niece. That same nation of people would come to your side … We’re all in this together.”
Interim LSU President Tom Galligan was just one of many who extended his condolences to the Gauthier family.
“Our LSU community is devastated to learn of the loss of Kori Gauthier,” said Galligan. “Our thoughts are with her parents, her family, and all who knew her during this very difficult time. We offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends.”
Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome also shared that she sent “most heartfelt condolences to Kori’s family and loved ones. Please keep them in your prayers during this time.”
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