Body found in Miss. River identified as missing LSU student

Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 11:37 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Officials confirm the body found in the Mississippi River in Reserve, La. on Tuesday, April 13 is that of missing LSU student Kori Gauthier.

Gauthier, 18, of Opelousas, was last seen on Tuesday, April 6.

The LSU freshman was reported missing after her vehicle was discovered unoccupied on I-10 East on the Mississippi River Bridge between Baton Rouge and Port Allen after a driver crashed into the vehicle after 12 a.m. Wednesday, April 7.

“Since Kori was first reported missing, the LSU Police Department, Baton Rouge Police Department and other law enforcement agencies and volunteers have taken exhaustive measures to locate her and, in the process, to determine what led to her disappearance,” said LSU Chief of Police Bart Thompson. “This is a difficult conclusion for all of us, but we hope this will bring closure for the Gauthier family.”

Thompson added, “Based on cell phone tracking, video footage and a timeline of the events related to this case – combined with other evidence we shared with Kori’s parents that we are not at liberty to disclose publicly out of respect for their privacy – we have concluded that there was no criminal activity or foul play involved.”

Gauthier’s father, Levar Gauthier, released a statement Wednesday evening after the news was released.

I come to you all with a very heavy heart!! It was confirmed that the body that was recovered in Reserve right down the street from my job was indeed my Kori Mo!!! God granted me the one wish I had and that was to receive her in any way to be put to rest properly. She always said that I didn’t do anything at work so I guess she was trying to see for herself!! I would like to thank everyone who assisted in any way. It’s too many to name but THANK YOU!! Give me time to process it all but do know I haven’t already responded to your text or calls I will in the near future. God Bless you and Rest in Paradise Kori Monet Gauthier!!!

“On behalf of the men and women of the Baton Rouge Police Department, I want to extend our prayers to Kori’s family and friends,” said Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul. “Over the last few days, we’ve held her close in our hearts, as we’ve worked with other agencies, volunteers, and loved ones to find Kori. We will continue praying for Kori’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

A number of agencies and volunteer groups have been involved in the ongoing search efforts, including LSU Police, Baton Rouge Police Department, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Attorney General, Louisiana State Police, K9 Mercy, Southeast Louisiana Rescue/Search, Iberville Sheriff’s Office, Livingston Sheriff’s Office, St. Charles Sheriff’s Office, United Cajun Navy WBR Sheriff’s Office, Cajun Navy 2016/Pinnacle SAR, Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries, EBR ABC Office, New Orleans Harbor Police, U.S. Coast Guard, St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office, along with other volunteer groups and individual volunteers.

Gauthier’s family members expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support from the community and law enforcement to help them locate her.

“I really appreciate the effort that LSU students have put in, Southern University students, friends from Opelousas, LaPlace, Texas, you know, the overwhelming support for my daughter,” Levar Gauthier, Kori Gauthier’s father said late last week. “A lot of people don’t know her but to see the compassion people have, I really appreciate it.”

Officials ask the public to respect the privacy of the Gauthier family at this time.

“Our LSU community is devastated to learn of the loss of Kori Gauthier,” said Interim LSU President Tom Galligan. “Our thoughts are with her parents, her family, and all who knew her during this very difficult time. We offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends.”

“Our entire community is heartbroken by the loss of this amazing young woman,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. “I send my most heartfelt condolences to Kori’s family and loved ones. Please keep them in your prayers during this time.”

Authorities have not released the cause of death yet.

This is a developing news story. WAFB will update this story when more information is available.

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