Authorities in Florida were fearing the worst Sunday as they confirmed that a car belonging to a woman missing since early on Feb. 12 had been found with a body inside.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that authorities have "no reason" to believe the body in the car is not Apryl Foster, 33, who was last seen leaving a karaoke bar in Ybor City at 2:30 a.m. The paper reported that the victim's clothing matched what Foster was last seen wearing. However, police stopped short of confirming that the body actually was Foster, due to a pending examination by the county's Medical Examiner.
"This is a tragic end to a very sad story," deputy Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan said. "If anything, it at least gives us answers now."
The red Chevrolet Aveo was located in a small lake less than a half-mile from Foster's home in Brandon. Sheriff's Office spokesman Maj. J.R. Burton said that two boaters on the lake had reported striking a submerged object near the lake's boat ramp. Their reports led investigators to examine security footage from the night Foster vanished.
The footage showed Foster's car driving down the boat ramp and into the water, though authorities did not give the precise time that this happened. Local residents noticed that the gate leading to the boat ramp and a nearby parking lot was broken.
"Our gate is normally locked. We have a chain and a lock on it," said 17-year-old Noelle Fraser, whose bedroom is adjacent to the lake, according to MyFoxTampaBay.com. "Everyone in the neighborhood has a key to get in, and maybe two weeks ago, it was just broken.
"On the weekends you have maybe 10 boats out there, but because the past few weekends have been really cold, no one has been able to go out there," Fraser added.
Foster's co-workers at an area restaurant called police after she failed to show up for work on the morning of Feb. 12, hours after she was last seen. At the time, police said there was no evidence of foul play.
Foster’s parents said Sunday that they intend to celebrate Apryl’s life with the local community before heading back home to Texas.
"We want to thank the city of Tampa for just pouring out your love to us, with the posters and the billboards, and we're going to miss our girl," said Foster's father, Craig Beman, as he tearfully addressed the media.
Peggy Beman, Foster's mother, said she “cannot imagine not having closure.
"That's something that God has blessed us with," she said.