(Reuters) - A body recovered on Sunday from a northwestern Indiana lake has been confirmed as that of a Michigan doctor who went missing early in December and likely drowned, authorities said on Wednesday.
Teleka Patrick, 30, missing since December 5, was found not far from the spot where police came across her car with a flat tire parked along an interstate highway at night, Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller told a news conference.
There were no signs of trauma on the body, he said.
Investigators said that on several previous occasions Patrick had urgently departed from Kalamazoo, staying away for a day or more and typically checking into a hotel. Her absence last December was far more extended, Fuller said.
“It was apparent that Teleka appeared to be troubled and was able to manage hiding her troubles very convincingly,” he said.
Patrick was a first-year psychiatry resident at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine and worked at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo.
The last day she was seen alive, Patrick worked a regular day shift at Borgess and later went to a Kalamazoo hotel without luggage, appearing agitated to staff, Fuller said. She took a hotel shuttle back to the hospital and then apparently got into a car and drove away.
Indiana State Police responding to reports of a motorist driving alone and erratically found the disabled car that night about two hours west of the hospital, Fuller said.
Patrick had left her cell phone, work identification and other items in her locker and appeared headed to St. Louis to see an old acquaintance, Fuller said.
Several searches around where the car was found failed to turn up any sign of Patrick, whose body was found on Sunday in Lake Charles by a fisherman, Fuller said.
Car keys, cash and Patrick’s hospital pager were found in clothing on the body and she was identified by several methods, including a fingerprint match, the Porter County coroner said in a statement.
“Autopsy results to this point are consistent with a drowning death,” the coroner said.
Fuller said an official cause of death will not be released until toxicology tests are completed, which may take weeks.
Fuller said a berm nearly encircles the lake and a person walking at night might not see the drop off.
“It is a steep enough walk that you have to really pay attention to what you are doing,” he said.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Bernadette Baum and Dan Grebler