Missing Elmore Co. mother's body found underwater

Missing Elmore Co. mother's body found underwater

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WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) -
Authorities say they have found the body of the woman who abandoned her children on the side of an Elmore County road to go "look for God."

The Elmore County Sheriff's Office says 28-year-old Lamona Fields Bender took her children's clothes off and left the 5-year-old and 2-year-old in her vehicle near the  600 block of Harragote Springs Road on Monday afternoon. The children were found unharmed two miles away from the vehicle. They told authorities their mother had gone to "look for God."

Investigators used tracking teams and K9 officers to attempt to find Bender who was last seen wearing a dark-colored sun dress, carrying a Bible near the Wetumpka Winn-Dixie.

Bender's body was located today two miles from the Coosa River entrance at Gold Star Park about 10-12 feet underwater. Authorities received a tip after a fisherman remembered seeing her in the area on a rock reading scriptures Tuesday night. The search began around 9 a.m. Bender's body was located just after 12:30 p.m. While no official cause of death has been released, authorities believe the mother died by suicide.

"Her body was found near her shawl and bible," said Elmore County Sheriff's Lieutenant Chris Ogden. "We believe her body had been there for no more than 12 hours."

Ogden added that a quick assessment of the body revealed no injuries or wounds to indicate any weapon was used.

Authorities believed at the time of her disappearance that Bender was in "extreme emotional distress." Family members said the mother had been "going through a tough time."

Bender's sister, Makisha Ezell, said Bender seemed normal as early as the day before she left her children in that car. Ezell added that Bender suffered the loss of her mother and a young child in 2009 and she was in the middle of a bitter custody battle for her 10-year-old daughter.

Bender's body was located with the help of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security, the Montgomery Police Department's Region 4 Law Enforcement Response Team, the Elmore County Search and Rescue Squad and the Alabama Marine Police.

Copyright 2012  WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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