Sarah Drowned, No Foul Play Suspected

Police returned to place where Townsend's car was found running Monday to find her body

By Teresa Masterson and Dan Stamm
|  Saturday, May 14, 2011  |  Updated 10:44 AM EDT
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A tragic end to the search for missing Florence Township teen Sarah Townsend. Her body is pulled from a pond -- officials say she drowned. On Friday night friends and family came together to remember Sarah.

NBCPhiladelphia.com - Claudia Rivero

A tragic end to the search for missing Florence Township teen Sarah Townsend. Her body is pulled from a pond -- officials say she drowned. On Friday night friends and family came together to remember Sarah.

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Body of Sarah Townsend Found in NJ Pond

The missing 18-year-old Florence Township woman was found dead in Sherman's Pond in Burlington Township Friday after a five day search.

Townsend's Boyfriend Runs Through Crime Tape

Police try to comfort a distraught Matt Welsh, who ran to the scene where his girlfriend Sarah Townsend's body was found Friday.
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A female body found in a pond in Burlington Township Friday was identified as Sarah Townsend, police say.

Later in the day Burlington County Medical Examiner Dr. Ian Hood declared that the Florence, N.J. teen had drowned.

Police found Townsend's body in Sherman's Pond in Burlington Township, N.J. Friday afternoon after returning to the field where Townsend's car was found parked with the engine running Monday morning, police tell NBC Philadelphia.

K9 police dogs led officers to the pond and a dive team pulled the body out at about 1:15 p.m. Friday.

Foul play is not suspected, police say. People are safe and have no one to worry about, police told NBC Philadelphia's Deanna Durante.

And even though the preliminary autopsy showed that the cause of death was drowning, the final autopsy is pending toxicology results, police say.

Townsend's boyfriend Matt Welsh, who found her empty car in Green Acres Field Monday morning, arrived at the scene Friday after police found the body. He ran crying through the crime tape and had to be stopped by police.

“It’s devastating. I can’t imagine, I can’t imagine,” said Burlington Township resident Theresa Mizak who was near the scene Friday. “My children and my grandchildren are my whole world and I can not imagine what this family’s going through.”

Chopper 10 was at Green Acres field in Burlington Township where New Jersey State Police and local authorities gathered at about 1 p.m. Friday with search vehicles and tarps.

The search for the Florence Township woman began Monday morning when the 18-year-old was reported missing by Welsh when he found her car adjacent to Sherman’s Pond with Townsend nowhere to be found, police say.

Authorities searched by air, ground and water until they called off the search Tuesday. Townsend’s family and friends put up a $10,000 reward for the teen’s safe return.

On Friday night hundreds of people -- including Sarah's parents -- gathered for a vigil to remember the young woman.

"My heart goes out to them -- I have been praying for them... and we are here for them to get them through this," said Florence Township resident Mel Kovacs.


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