CLAY COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The body of a missing Vigo County woman was found inside a vehicle discovered Friday down a ravine on the side of SR 59 near West County Road 500 North in Clay County.
Jessica Nascimbene, 36, was last seen leaving WalMart South in Terre Haute April 29.
Detectives were able to use cell phone technology that put Nascimbene’s last known location in Clay County on SR 59 between CR 500 N and 600 N.
Vigo County Sheriff, John Plasse, said they couldn’t pinpoint her exactly location and the conditions of her car also hindered their efforts.
“The phone actually quit working last week. That always causes concern when you’re looking for somebody. If they’re ok, they’re phone is probably going to be charged,” he explained. “If they’re not ok or something happened to the phone.. you wonder why that’s off and not on. So that raised more concern after the initial missing persons report that her phone wasn’t working.”
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office was notified April 30 of a potential hit and run that involved the Indiana Sheriff’s Youth Ranch sign. During the initial investigation it was believed that a vehicle had been traveling south on SR 59 in the early morning hours. At some point the vehicle crossed the center line and traveled off the east side of the roadway where it struck the sign and drove through the ditch for a short distance.
According to authorities, there were no significant marks that would indicate where the vehicle went but it was presumed that the vehicle traveled back onto the roadway and continued south on SR 59 without reporting the incident.
Plasse said at the time they had no idea that it was connected to the missing person’s case in Vigo County.
“I went over there Friday, a week ago, for a meeting at the sheriff’s youth ranch. I saw Sheriff Harden there and he had commented how he saw that sheriff’s youth ranch sign had been ran over by a vehicle. Maybe a hit and run at the time. We didn’t know it was connected to this. We thought maybe someone had hit it and continued on so we had an idea that a vehicle had hit that sign but had no clue that it was her vehicle,” he said.
Deputies returned to the scene Friday with the new information provided from Vigo County. While searching the area again, deputies determined that the vehicle responsible for the damage to the sign had not reentered the roadway but had actually tumbled down the deep ravine and had become submerged about five to ten feet under the water. Indiana Conservation Officers were contacted and a dive team assisted with securing and removing the vehicle from the water.
SR 59 was closed for several hours while rescue personnel removed the vehicle from the terrain.
Detectives were able to confirm that the driver of the black SUV was still inside the vehicle and had succumb to the injuries sustained from the crash. Identification was later made confirming that the deceased was Nascimbene.
It is unclear why Nascimbene left the roadway; however, the investigation is still ongoing. An autopsy was completed Saturday.
Plasse said they can now begin to answer questions that her family may have.
“The not knowing part of I don’t know what happened to her. Did someone kill her? Or did bad things happen to her? I guess I would be relieved that we know where she is and we’re fairly certain that we know what happened. But we won’t close the investigation until we’re 100 percent certain that we know it was an accident.”