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BODY OF MISSING WOMAN FOUND IN SUBMERGED CAR

Aug. 9, 2002 – Law-enforcement divers found the body of Chamonie Miller at 11:50 a.m. Friday in her vehicle submerged in the murky waters of Krause Lagoon on St. Croix's southwest shoreline, ending a five-day search of the island.
A police wrecker, the Blue Lightning marine unit, and police and Immigration and Naturalization Service divers retrieved the black four-door 2002 Ford Explorer from the water two hours later. At a press conference late Friday afternoon, Police Chief Novelle Francis said the body was officially identified at 3:45 p.m.
Francis said Miller's death was being treated as a homicide.
Miller, 26, was wearing a sports bra and slacks, as those who last reported seeing her had described her clothing early Monday morning, and her jewelry was in place, Francis said.
The vehicle had sunk front-end down in 50 feet of water off the lagoon dock, Francis said, leading police to believe that it had been driven off the pier. No tire marks were visible on the planks, he said. The vehicle was scratched, the windows were partially down, the sun roof was open and the doors were locked, he added.
The body was hanging over the back seat and trunk area as the vehicle was pulled from the water. Lt. Gregory Bennerson of the Investigations Unit said there was evidence of facial injury to Miller but the cause would have to be determined by an autopsy to be conducted by Dr. William Fogarty. Also, "The autopsy will reveal the time and cause of her death," Bennerson said
Miller failed to return to return home after finishing her Sunday night shift as a card dealer at the Divi Carina Bay Casino. She gave two co-workers a ride from the Divi to their home at Coakley Bay about 10 minutes away. They were the last persons to report having seen her.
Her mother, Margaret Miller, said in a television plea for information from the community earlier this week that her daughter had been planning to meet her boyfriend at the Hovensa refinery after he got off work. The boyfriend, who has not been named, was questioned by detectives and released.
Francis said on Friday that the man would be questioned further as the investigation into Miller's death proceeds.
Police received reports of sightings of the Explorer in the La Reine, Kingshill and Castle Coakley communities earlier this week, but witnesses were unable to see who the driver was because of the heavily tinted glass.
After receiving reports of sightings in Castle Coakley on Monday, police began canvassing westward from Sion Farm, including the Krause Lagoon area adjacent to the Gordon Finch Molasses Pier. Assisting police were INS, Planning and Natural Resources Department and Port Authority personnel.
Francis said authorities searched Krause Lagoon because it has been a dumping ground for stolen vehicles in the past.
On Friday morning friends, family, co-workers and concerned citizens had joined in scouring the island looking for signs of the missing woman. One resident described Miller as a devout member of Bethel A.M.E. Church, where she sang in the choir.
Also Friday morning, at the Divi Casino, Lt. Roman Cruz had commented on the overall atmosphere at the resort regarding Miller's disappearance. The employees, he said, were "very down. Everyone is hoping that she is well." Some, he said, were wearing yellow ribbons in solidarity with the search efforts.
Francis thanked the community for support in trying to locate Miller. He asked residents to continue to assist in bringing the investigation to closure. Anyone with information relevant to the case is asked to call the police at 911, 778-2211 or 778-4950.

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