Valley police confirmed to News Leader 9, the body found in the creek under the Hopewell Road bridge was positively identified as 25-year-old Renee Eldridge, of Columbus.
Investigators notified her family just a short time ago.
Valley police say now that the body has been identified, they have a starting point to continue their murder investigation. Columbus investigators have said they have spoken with several people in the missing person’s case but as of late Tuesday morning, they have not identified a suspect or a person(s) of interest in Renee’s disappearance.
An autopsy is being performed, and police say the preliminary cause of her death is expected to be blunt force trauma to the head.
On Tuesday, Columbus investigators joined Valley investigators at the creek bank, looking at the scene where Eldridge was pulled from the waterway.
Eldridge, a leasing agent for Chastain Properties, was last seen around 3 a.m. on July 4, when friends dropped her off at her home on 46th street.
The Eldridge family has said from the beginning they believe Renee was abducted from her home. Her mother, who lives with her, discovered her missing around 10:30 a.m. They say her room was in disarray, a window screen was missing, and her dog had not been let out of her cage. They say her purse was not in her room, but her phone or car keys were not taken.
Officers with the Valley Police Department were checking the bridge on Hopewell Road near the intersection of Fairfax Bypass. The area under this bridge has become a favorite spot for persons using drugs. While conducting their check, officers located a body floating in the creek. Valley detectives, Valley EMS and East Alabama Fire units, as well as the Chambers County Coroner, were called to the scene.
The body recovered appeared to be that of a white female, late teens to mid-20s in age, and had medium length reddish hair. At this point in the investigation it is unknown how long she had been in the water prior to discovery. She was the victim of a homicide, meaning investigators do suspect she was murdered.
The body was transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Montgomery where an autopsy will be performed.
Check back for more updates.