Watch CBS News

Body pulled from Chicago area pond identified as missing teen Brissa Romero

Body found in pond identified as missing teen Brissa Romero
Body found in pond identified as missing teen Brissa Romero 00:25

VERNON HILLS, Ill. (CBS) -- A body recovered from a pond in north suburban Vernon Hills has been identified as Brissa Romero, a 17-year-old girl from Carpentersville who had been missing for more than a week.

Divers in Vernon Hills pulled a body from the water of a pond near Lakeview and Executive parkways around 1:15 p.m. Tuesday amid the search for Brissa, who had been missing since Dec. 4. On Wednesday, the Lake County Coroner's office confirmed the body had been identified as the missing teen. 

"Preliminary autopsy results indicate that there were no significant injuries and that Brissa Romero's death is consistent with drowning," the coroner's office said.

Police believe Brissa accidentally drove her Nissan Rogue into the pond on the day she went missing.

Body found during search for missing teen Brissa Romero 02:00

Brissa's family was there as the search concluded on Tuesday, and were too distraught to speak about the discovery of the body.

Brissa is believed to have been on her way to a bowling alley in Vernon Hills when she went missing on Dec. 4. She was supposed to attend a holiday party at the bowling alley, but she never showed up.

Brissa Romero Carpentersville Police

Monday morning, one week after Brissa went missing, analysis of cell phone data led search teams to the pond in Vernon Hills.

The first police supervisor on the scene spoke to a witness who had spotted a backpack floating on the edge of the pond. Police later found the backpack, which appeared to belong to Brissa, and additional crews were brought in to search the area, ultimately finding her car in the water.

The car was pulled from the retention pond just before 4 p.m. Monday. Police said the car traveled approximately 60 feet into the pond, sinking in an area approximately 20 feet deep.  

Search resumes for missing girl Brissa Romero 02:49

Surveillance video obtained from a nearby fast food restaurant on Monday showed Brissa walking in and out of the restaurant by herself, and then driving away about 15 minutes before her cell phone last pinged near the pond.

"Even though we have not found Brissa in this vehicle at this point, it's our belief that we need to continue to search this pond, and that is really the sole efforts of our search at this point," Vernon Hills Police Chief Patrick Kreis said.

Police said the pond is just off a T-intersection of Lakeview Parkway and Executive Parkway, and it appears Brissa might have been unfamiliar with the area, an instead of turning right or left at the T, went through the intersection, down an embankment, and into the pond.

Kreis said the vehicle would be towed back to the Vernon Hills Police Department for further examination.

Car found in search for missing teen in Chicago's north suburbs 02:12

Before Brissa's body was found, her sister, Dulce Romero, thanked police and volunteers for their efforts.

"I do want to say thank you for everyone that has been keeping up with Brissa's story. We have been able to get so many people's eyes on this, and get so much help from a lot of people from a lot of countries, actually, to help spread the word of Brissa," she said. "In my heart, I still believe that she's out there, but for now we'll just keep investigating, and we will find her."

The search effort on Monday came after Brissa's loved ones held a vigil for her Sunday night.

"It's just weird, the fact that a vehicle and a person disappeared out of nowhere," said her older sister, Dulce.

Brissa had gone over to her cousin's house in Des Plaines on Dec. 4. Dulce said, from there, Brissa left to head to a holiday party at Bowlero in Vernon Hills at around 7 p.m., and during that ride, communication with Brissa went radio silent.

"Nothing was going through. Nobody, none of our cousins, none of her friends, none of our family was going through her phone, nothing was ringing. And it was alarming. We were like, 'This is weird,'" Dulce said.

Car of missing teen found in pond; searchers still looking for girl 02:07

Detectives told relatives that surveillance cameras at the bowling alley did not show Brissa entering the venue, confirming that she never made it to the party.

Brissa's family also has released surveillance video of her at work, grabbing her iPad before she would have been headed to the bowling alley.

Her family is asking the public for help; if anyone was in the area at the time, and has surveillance video or might have seen something unusual, to come forward.

"If you have any businesses in the area, we would love to see their recordings, and maybe we could spot something," Dulce said.

The family had been offering a $14,000 reward for any information that leads to Romero's safe return.

Police searching for missing teen recover car in pond 12:37
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.