Apr 052013

A tarp-covered clearing in an otherwise overgrown area of City Park has attracted the attention of three different teams of police dogs searching for a teacher who has been missing for more than a month, but all investigators have been able to find under the earth is discarded cooking oil, officials said Friday.

The first dogs to find the location belonged to a private team during initial searches for missing teacher Terrilynn Monnette about four weeks ago, NOPD Special Operations Division Commander John Thomas told the department leadership during their weekly meeting Friday. NOPD then requested the assistance of a police dog team from St. Charles Parish, and those dogs alerted to the exact same spot, Thomas said.

The area is totally cleared of any plants, though it is completely surrounded by weeds, Thomas said. It’s marked by a small black tarp, and the ground appears as though it had recently been turned over, he said. Investigators believe someone may have been living there.

When investigators from the coroner’s office dug up the spot, however, all they found was a repository of cooking grease that had been poured into the earth there, Thomas said. Superintendent Ronal Serpas asked Thomas if trained dogs are known to mistake grease for bodies, and Thomas said no — they are actually supposed to distinguish between humans and animals.

“It’s just something about the way the grease breaks down that has the dogs were hitting on it,” Thomas suggested.

Since then, a new company of dogs has searched City Park, and Thomas asked the third group to inspect the area as well. They, too, lit on the same location, Thomas said, but another search turned up nothing.

As the search for Monnette continues, NOPD Officer Garry Flot said the location will remain in consideration.

“We’re not ruling anything out,” Flot said.

  17 Responses to “Mysterious clearing in City Park baffles police dogs searching for missing teacher”

  1. One night back about 1961, my cousin and I were driving on Harrison from Marconi, intending to go thru the park, and somehow during a mild fog, I turned right at the circle into the first street in the circle ( onto Diagonal Dr) thinking we were still on Harrison I continued driving and realized I was not on Harrison—-anyway, I just loked at google maps and saw there is a lagoon very near Diagonal Dr and was wndering if a person with a few drinks could of gotten confused and ended up on Diagonal drive and drove into the lagoon running nearby—I assume they have searched the lagoon near Diagonal Dr for a car??????

    • The lagoons are very shallow. The car probably will not completely submerge. If so, someone in a boat could easily see the car only a few feet under the water.

    • But, that was good research and thinking on your behalf.

  2. Those boats that was used to search the bayou,they had problems several times,sonar is like a lie detector the equipment is not always 100% true,the equipment is only as good as the person using he equipment.they need to get another sonar group in there.recheck and remove all the cars they get a hit on.they need to search both sides if the bayou including the middle.

  3. Could this cooking oil be related to the restaurant, Parlays. How much cooking oil was found? Were there any ashes or evidence of a previous fire? Is the cooking oil camouflaging something else?
    Are there any nearby burn or acid spots/sites? Could she have been drugged, in her drink, in the bar/in her car by someone?

  4. Is it possible that a body could have been removed from there and the dogs can smell it? Also, what about the cooking grease…. Has it been tested for human DNA? People in the world are sick, and have cooked bodies many times before in attempts to get rid of any evidence.

    • This was my thought also. I hadn’t thought of the body being there then moved, but if it was, wouldn’t this suggest a large strong person or more than one person? And if the body was there then moved, is it possible for the dna of another person to be revealed by testing? I truly hope that this woman is found soon.

  5. Been kayaking in city park since soon after the storm. Several homeless people slash young hipsters live or meet in the park at night to do drugs. I have run into 2 make shift rafts made out of tree limbs that were used to get to the small island think it’s called lepercon island or something like that and on the island there was nothing but needles. Also, on the side of the park which was abandoned for some time I ran into several people which again looked homeless but we’re in their twenties walking through the brush. right now several of these young kids meet on the other side of the levee across from Matt and naddies’s and have even built beds to sleep on in the trees, if you go down there during the day it’s usually abandoned unless someone is still sleeping in the tree beds, you will find all kinds of stuff from needles, to camp fire’s, and very creepy Blair witch style graffiti. This is not related in any way the the disappearance but just an explanation to what was found.

  6. All and everything is relevant in these types of cases I would imagine! I just found this page and after reading, thought I would put my own thoughts here also. First I would like to say, I have been praying for teacher and family and the teachers safe return, that being said, I have seen people in various groups walking around different areas of the park. BUT, have ya’ll done the walk through I have seen so many times that each person is like 2 to 3 feet apart and they start at one point and walk, with sticks to bend weeds, all looking at the same time in the same area. Though it would take days to walk the entire park area, I believe even one life is worth the time. If you do this I would volunteer to help. Blessed Be!!!

  7. I keep wondering where is the car? My hearts breaks everytime I read an update on this young lady, I pray that she’s found soon.

  8. Probably some illegal Mexican taken up residence in the park.

  9. I know it’s been a few years since I have driven around that area, but is it even remotely possible that she may have wound up in the lake in that area? Are the seawalls gates off? I know they didn’t used to be. Just a thought because it is very hard for a person with a vehicle to just disappear into thin air.

    • Must have been a long time; the gates are open but to get to seawall would have to continue on Marconi across RELee to Lakeshore Drive, then across 4 lanes LS and about 20′ berm to the seawall. I guess anything possible at this point but just don’t see this and lake is probably not that deep at the seawall to cover a vehicle.

  10. Has utilizing the abilities of a Psychic been considered. These individuals are gifted and have been known to be a positive element in solving missing person cases. I too think of her often and pray that there be a good outcome to this matter.

  11. Two women have vanished from this area in less than one year! Abductions are a possibility! See link http://youtu.be/-w5dqSZEnXM

  12. Well in Nola lots of chop shops so car could be submerged chopped, or painted. Praying they find her this is so tragetic. Today there r so many weirdos. Why don’t they contact a corporation an ask if they will donate their time to use one of those submergeable boats that r used to find salvage in the deep waters… just a thought if the sonar equipment is not getting results.

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