ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Orlando Police Department has confirmed the body found inside an SUV in a retention pond over the weekend is that of the missing woman from Belle Isle, Stephanie Hollingsworth.
Police said Hollingsworth was last seen on Sept. 25 in her Chevy Tahoe.
Investigators said searchers flying a drone over the weekend saw the vehicle in a retention pond near Dowden Road and Story Time Drive, near the Innovation Way area. A body was also found in the vehicle. On Monday, police confirmed the body found in the SUV was the missing mother of three.
Officers said the Belle Isle Police Department and her family have been notified.
A memorial was created near the pond Hollingsworth was found. Friends, family and strangers showed up Monday laying flowers, stuffed animals and photos.
Search volunteers and friends said the discovery gives them a sense of closure.
“I’m just grateful. I’m grateful for everybody. They’re time, they’re effort," said Rossemary Frick, Stephanie’s close friend.
Frick said the search for the 50-year-old mom of three ended with tragic news, but did the unexpected: bring the community together.
“She always wanted that. She always wanted to please people. For people to love each other," said Frick.
Search volunteer, Melanie Miller said she didn’t know Hollingsworth but said she was drawn to get involved in the search through God.
“There were times that we were emotional, there were times we were frustrated, there were times where we felt hope," said Miller.
Miller said she was there when the SUV was spotted.
“It was emotional... I just felt like because of the teamwork and the people that came together, we located something that was going to help the family and that to me was a powerful moment," said Frick.
A three-week search came to an end as family and friends remember Hollingsworth with a memorial.
“She’s amazing... she’s always going to be forever in our hearts," said Frick.
Authorities have not yet released Hollingsworth’s cause of death or how the SUV ended up in the pond.
The Hollingsworth and Chitwood families released a statement Monday:
This is a developing story. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
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Crystal Moyer is a multimedia journalist who joined the News 6 team in February 2020. Crystal comes to Central Florida from WKMG’s sister station, WJXT in Jacksonville, where she worked as a traffic anchor and MMJ.