Update on missing Avon mother Najah Ferrell.
Clark Wade, Clark.Wade@Indystar.com
Investigators suspect foul play in the disappearance of the Avon mother of five and urge anyone with information to come forward.
INDIANAPOLIS – A gruesome discovery in a Northwest Indiana pond has given police a vital clue in the disappearance of Najah Ferrell, but it hasn’t helped them get any closer to finding out what happened to the Avon mother of five.
No witnesses to Ferrell’s last assumed whereabouts have been found, and police are still checking to see if any video surveillance footage is available. Additionally, no other remains besides a foot have been discovered, though authorities continue to dredge several ponds near I-65 and 109th Street in Crown Point.
“We got a lot of information from the coroner,” Avon Deputy Chief of Investigations Brian Nugent Wednesday at a news conference in Avon. “But here we are a few weeks after we told you about her disappearance, and we are in the same position.”
The discovery of the foot has been excruciating for Ferrell’s family, Nugent said. A picture of the tattoo, reading “Najah,” was sent from Crown Point to Avon police, who called in two family members to identify it.
‘Somebody knows something’: Indiana mom of five missing for more than two weeks, police say
“We knew fairly quickly this was bad news for the family,” Nugent said. “They were surrounded by friends and people of faith when they came in. It is truly the worst outcome that we could have experienced … the idea that Najah may not be with us anymore.”
Missing mother disappeared March 15
Ferrell, a mother of two children and three foster children who was engaged to be married, was last seen at her home near County Road 100 South and Dan Jones Road in Avon during the early hours of March 15.
Police found her black Nissan Altima in the parking lot of Studio Movie Grill, near the intersection of Michigan Road and West 86th Street in Indianapolis, 2.5 miles east of the Panera Bread where she worked.
Some personal items believed to belong to Ferrell were also found in the area around I-465 and Lafayette Road.
Two fishermen discovered the foot believed to be Ferrell’s near an embankment Monday night.
Nugent said that identification is still considered preliminary, and DNA test results needed to make an official confirmation were pending. He added that there was no solid timeline for those DNA results to be returned, but members of the backlogged Indiana State Police Crime Lab were doing all they could to produce results in the coming weeks.
“We do not work under the umbrella of presumptions or assumptions,” Nugent said. “They’re doing everything they can to expedite our cause due to the serious nature of the investigation.”
Police have not categorized the investigation as a homicide because the cause and manner of death remain undetermined. Still, investigators suspect foul play and urged the community to help them answer questions that still surround the case.
“Somebody knows something about this case,” Nugent said. “We are simply trying to appeal to what we know is the majority of the state … which is good-hearted people who want to do the right thing.”
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The search for Najah Ferrell
Ferrell had started a new job at the Panera Bread on West 86th Street near I-465 and Zionsville Road on Indianapolis’ northwest side but failed to show up for the third day of orientation. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was notified and began investigating, and they contacted Avon police after learning that she was a Hendricks County resident.
Brian Nugent, of the Avon Police Department, gave an update on the case of Avon mother Najah Ferrell, missing since mid March.
Robert Scheer, email@example.com
Nugent said Ferrell has some past connection to Northwest Indiana. She formerly lived in the Gary area, and it is believed that she still has family in the area. No suspects or persons of interest have been identified.
The search for Ferrell has been extensive. Police have filed more than 30 search warrants and have conducted about 40 interviews with family, friends and people in the area where she was last seen.
Police have also been working to secure surveillance footage from businesses in the area of 86th Street and Michigan Road and the area of Rockville Road and I-465 in Indianapolis.
Nugent said investigators do not believe there is a threat to the public in relation to the case. Because they still don’t know what happened to Ferrell or who she communicated with on the day she disappeared, investigators are cautious to categorize the case as something akin to an abduction or having a killer on the loose.
Nugent said the FBI, Brownsburg police, state conservation officers and the Indiana State Police have provided assistance in the case and continue to be involved.
Searches of key areas of the pond, with the help of sonar and cadaver dogs, will take place in the coming days.
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Najah Ferrell is asked to contact Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-8477.
People can also download the mobile P3tips app for Apple or Android phones to submit a mobile tip or go to CrimeTips.org to submit a web tip. Callers will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 if the information provided leads to a felony arrest.
Follow Justin L. Mack and John Tuohy on Twitter: @justinlmack and @John_Tuohy.
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