Missing N.J. Teen's Body Found in Pond

The death of Sarah Townsend was ruled a drowning shortly after he body was found

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Burlington Township
    Sarah Townsend was reported missing Monday.

    The body of a missing New Jersey teenager was found in a pond on Friday and her death ruled a drowning, authorities said.

    The body of 18-year-old Sarah Townsend was found in the park where her car was discovered abandoned four days earlier.  Police dogs led officers to the pond and a dive team pulled the body out at about 1:15 p.m. Her death was ruled a drowning.

    Family Begs for Sarah's Safe Return

    [PHI] Family Begs for Sarah's Safe Return
    The search for missing 18-year-old Sarah Townsend was called off Tuesday but her loved ones were holding out hope and offering a reward for her safe return. (Published Tuesday, May 10, 2011)

    There were no signs of trauma to her body and no indications that foul play contributed to her death, said Burlington County Medical Examiner Dr. Ian Hood, who performed the autopsy

    Townsend was last seen Monday morning, when she left her family's home in Florence to go to Allentown High School.

    Missing NJ Teen May Have Hurt Herself: Cops

    [PHI] Missing NJ Teen May Have Hurt Herself: Cops
    Police say they've found nothing suspicious in the disappearance of Sarah Townsend and have called off the search. Family and friends will continue to look for the 18-year-old. (Published Thursday, May 12, 2011)

    Hours later on Monday morning, Townsend's boyfriend found her car at Green Acres Field — a park where they often spent time, he said. A door was open and the engine was running. Her cellphone and purse were left inside.

    Her boyfriend, Matt Welsh, arrived at the scene Friday after police found the body. He ran crying through the crime tape and had to be stopped by police.

    Burlington County Prosecutor Robert Bernardi said canine tracking teams led police back to the pond they'd searched earlier in the week.

    On Wednesday, Burlington Township Police Director Walter Corter said police were told Townsend may have wanted to harm herself.

    However, her parents told The Courier-Post of Cherry Hill that their daughter was happy when she left their home on Monday. They said she was getting ready to attend two proms and was working on coordinating her hairdo and dress for each.

    A woman who answered the phone at her family's home Friday afternoon tearfully said she couldn't talk.

    Friends and other teens who didn't know her combed the area where Townsend was later found and held a candlelight vigil for her Wednesday.

    Joel Bewley, a spokesman for the Burlington County prosecutor's office, said the autopsy would be conducted Friday. But he said it was not certain when details would be released publicly.