Missing doctor’s body identified after discovery in Indiana lake
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A body found in an Indiana lake has been identified as that of Teleka Patrick, the Michigan doctor who’s been missing since December, the Porter County Coroner’s Office confirmed.
Her body was discovered Sunday in Lake Charles, west of Gary, Indiana, officials said.
The cause and manner of death are still pending further investigation, but are consistent with drowning, the coroner said in a statement Tuesday. An autopsy revealed no trauma, the statement added.
The 30-year-old medical resident failed to show up for work on December 6 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The night before, her 1997 Lexus was discovered abandoned more than 115 miles away in a ditch off of Interstate 94 in Indiana, directly south of the lake where she was ultimately found.
Police brought out dogs to track Patrick’s scent. They led investigators out of the ditch where Patrick’s car rested to the highway. There, the scent went cold.
“We looked everywhere,” Sgt. Rick Strong of the Indiana State Police told CNN in December.
Videos provide clues
Surveillance video and home videos uploaded to YouTube provided investigators with clues about Patrick’s movements in the weeks, days and hours before she vanished.
The YouTube videos showed Patrick talking, cooing and singing to someone unnamed and apparently unknown. Patrick’s mother told CNN she wasn’t aware of any romantic relationship her daughter may have had. But the videos have an intimate feel to them.
“Hi, baby,” Patrick says in one. “I am just coming to you to say ‘hi’ and tell you about my day.”
In another video, Patrick shows a table set for two with omelets and pancakes.
“If you were here, this is what would be your plate,” she coos.
In a surveillance video from a Radisson hotel in Kalamazoo, not far from where she worked, Patrick is seen on the night of December 5 around 7:30 p.m., hours before police found her car in Indiana.
She spent about 10 minutes talking with employees at the reception desk but ultimately left. There’s no audio on the video, and it’s not clear why Patrick failed to book a room.
But at 7:48 p.m., she strode across the hotel’s tiled floors, out the door and onto a hotel shuttle bus.
Those are the last known images of her.
Her family says Patrick, who had just moved to Michigan, bought a plane ticket to come visit them for the holidays in Florida.
In January, family members urged investigators to remain focused on the possibility that foul play was involved in her disappearance, after reports surfaced that gospel singer Marvin Sapp had filed a personal protection order against Patrick in September.
In court documents, Sapp said Patrick “has claimed him as her husband, had moved from California to Michigan, joined his church, had contacted his children and had been to his home.
“I have at least 400 pages of correspondence from her which I have never responded,” his complaint reads.
While the discovery of Patrick’s body answers some questions, it leaves many more unanswered for the grieving family of a young doctor described as “wonderful,” “beautiful” and “talented.”
Investigators have said they have no evidence of foul play, but they also don’t have conclusive evidence that Patrick’s movements on December 5 were voluntary.
“We have scoured, searched and looked at everything we could possibly look at — all the exits, all the businesses, all the hotels,” Strong said late last year. “We posted fliers; we talked to neighbors (who live near the highway). We did a full-blown, on-the-ground search in the wooded area north of where the car was.”
Carl Clatterback, a private investigator hired by Patrick’s family, told CNN that investigators are looking into the videos. A central question: Who was Patrick talking to in the videos and does that person know anything about what happened to her?