Body found inside SUV in Orlando ID’d as missing woman
The family of a 50-year-old central Florida mother who went missing last month is thanking volunteers who looked for her after police announced Saturday that they found a body in her sports utility vehicle at the bottom of a retention pond.
Stephanie Hollingsworth’s family received word Monday afternoon that the body was positively identified as Hollingsworth, who grew up in and has family in Fort Myers.
The license plate on the vehicle matches the one on Hollingsworth’s champagne-colored Chevy Tahoe, which was discovered in the pond during a drone search by searchers who were working with her family, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The Orlando Police Department said in a statement Sunday that “identifying any deceased individual is a meticulous process that can take some time.”
Hollingsworth’s husband, Scott Hollingsworth, posted on a Facebook group, “Searching for Stephanie Hollingsworth Official,” thanking volunteers for all their help.
“I want to thank everyone for your loving efforts in our search to find Stephanie,” the statement said. “Right now we are processing and absorbing the latest developments.”
Hollingsworth went missing Sept. 25. The mother of three boys was last seen on surveillance video at a Walmart store. Hollingsworth grew up in Southwest Florida. She graduated from Fort Myers High School before she moved to Belle Isle.
WINK News spoke to friends and family members who spent the last three weeks searching everywhere for her. Strangers to Hollingworth’s family and friends helped pass out flyers during the time she was missing, searching from Orlando to Southwest Florida.
Friends and a drone pilot volunteer found Hollingsworth’s car Saturday in a retention pond. It was five and a half miles away from the Walmart where she was last seen.
Friends told WINK News Hollingsworth had been going through trying times recently like many in 2020 but never believed something like this could happen.
A friend of Hollingsworth told us this was not the outcome they were praying for, but they’re grateful she was found. Now, they’re hoping this was some terrible accident and nothing worse.
Last week, Belle Isle Police Department Chief Laura Houston officially ruled out Hollingsworth’s husband and other relatives as being persons of interest in the investigation, the Sentinel reported.
Her husband had told investigators he thought his wife was running errands the day she went missing but he got worried when she didn’t come home that night.