By CHARLES SCUDDER
The body of a Wylie woman who vanished on her way to work last month was found Sunday in a pond along her commute route.
Almaz Gebremedhin’s body was found inside her van, Wylie police said. A private search team led authorities to her body.
Gebremedhin, 42, was last seen headed to work just before 5:30 a.m. Oct. 2. The Wylie woman worked about 3 miles from her home.
Her body and van were found Sunday afternoon in the Muddy Creek Farms pond in the 2500 block of McMillen Road, about half a mile from Garnet Hill Rehabilitation and Skilled Care, where she worked as an aide.
Gebremedhin, a native of Ethiopia, was married and had two children, a 10-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter.
“It’s a shock,” said Mac Mekonnen, executive director of the Mutual Assistance Association For Ethiopian Community. “This is really going to be a shock to the Ethiopian community.”
The association had established a fund to hire a private investigator and offer a reward for information about her disappearance.
Police said the private detective used a search-and-recovery team from Illinois that began searching for Gebremedhin on Sunday morning.
Dennis Watters of Team Watters Sonar Search & Recovery Inc. said the nonprofit group started by traveling any possible routes Gebremedhin would have taken on her way to work, stopping at any bodies of water to survey with a homemade 32-inch drone boat equipped with side-imaging sonar.
One fenced-in pond on McMillen Road caught Watters’ eye because of a damaged fence post.
“I was suspicious of the damage,” Watters said.
The team got permission from the landowner at Muddy Creek Farms to search.
In less than two minutes, they had found a large object at the bottom of the pond. Watters said the pond was about 8 feet deep and an acre wide. A follow-up sweep revealed a van within seconds.
“Unfortunately for the family, it was [Gebremedhin’s],” Watters said.
At that point, Watters and the search team called Wylie officials.
“We’re professionals. We knew immediately that it was a potential crime scene,” Watters said. “We knew we didn’t have authority to touch the vehicle.”
A Collin County sheriff’s dive team then discovered the van with Gebremedhin’s body inside. Police are investigating how the van ended up in the pond.
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