Indiana teacher who went missing in Puerto Rico presumed dead after body found

Indiana teacher who went missing in Puerto Rico presumed dead after body found


Jake Allen

Amaris Encinas
 USA TODAY

It’s been nearly a week since Indiana teacher Amanda Webster went missing in Puerto Rico, leading family and friends to believe she is dead.

The 44-year-old Thompson Crossing Elementary School teacher was vacationing in Naguabo, a town located near the east coast of the island over fall break. 

Webster was first reported missing Oct. 11 by the owner of her vacation rental after failing to complete the checkout process as agreed. She left behind her personal belongings and left her rental car parked on the property, according to a Facebook post by police in Puerto Rico. 

Puerto Rice Police activated an Ashanti Alert a couple days later, an alert designed to allow authorities in state, territory, or tribal areas to share information about a missing adult to assist in the location and investigation of that individual. 

Its purpose was to inform local residents that the department’s criminal subdivision had begun to actively search for Webster on Wednesday. The department was also joined by neighboring municipalities’ emergency agencies and the U.S. Forestry Service to search for Webster in Casa Parcha, a commercial rainforest zone, where she was last seen by a resident.

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Here’s what we know so far.

What information have police released so far?

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Puerto Rico Police reported that they had recovered a body early Saturday morning from the neighborhood river, Río Blanco, in the same rainforest zone where the search for Webster had begun a day earlier. The body recovered could be a woman’s, the Facebook post stated. 

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The body had been floating facedown in a particularly rocky area of the river. The department’s criminal and forensic teams were working on extracting the body and getting an ID on the individual. 

Police were unable to identify the gender or conclusively determine whether a violent crime was committed against the individual at the time. 

No additional information has been released at this time. 

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What happens next?

For the moment, Webster’s family and friends are focused on honoring her memory. 

The bubbly and creative art teacher had solo traveled before on other trips, but was most looking forward to hiking, camping, exploring on her trip to the island. 

She was usually good at keeping in touch when was away from Indiana and letting them know her itinerary.  

Webster’s loved ones believe that the body Puerto Rico police recovered from the river was her, close friend Sharon Rickson said.  

“Amanda felt the arts were so important for enriching life. She was a very powerful advocate for arts education for all and we want to see some way to remember her,” Rickson said.

Family and friends are currently raising funds to start a scholarship in Webster’s name. 

“She had patience and warmth and understanding. She just really threw her full self into teaching and loved working with kids. The kids just lit up when they saw her,” Rickson said. 

She and Rickson attended the Herron School of Art’s education program together. Webster had been teaching since 2008, switching between art and special education classes.

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“Amanda was an amazing teacher who was a champion for every student she came in contact with. “We are all better off for knowing Amanda, a statement from the Franklin Township Community School Corporation read.

Counseling and bereavement support services will be offered to all students and staff at Thompson Crossing Elementary School, according to the statement.

“(Webster) was an incredible, positive light for her friends and family,” Rickson said. “Her co-workers and students, I am sure, are feeling shocked and lost without her. It’s going to be hard for a long time.”  

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