- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

BOONVILLE, Ind. (AP) - An autopsy Wednesday on a body found inside a submerged SUV has confirmed it’s that of a southwestern Indiana woman missing for a month and that her death was accidental.

The Warrick County Coroner’s Office released a preliminary autopsy report saying 27-year-old Kristy Kelley of Boonville died from asphyxia due to drowning.

Her body was discovered Tuesday inside her SUV after the vehicle was pulled from a small lake along a county road south of Boonville. The vehicle was detected by a private sonar search group.

Sheriff Brett Kruse said investigators found no immediate signs of foul play.

The mother of two young children was last seen leaving a veterans lodge in the city about 15 miles east of Evansville early on Aug. 15.

Kruse said he hoped the discovery of the body would give some closure to Kelley’s family.

“They can move on with their life at least knowing where Kristy is and that she’s in a better place and that they won’t have to continue to search and wonder where she’s at,” the sheriff told WFIE-TV.

Hundreds of volunteers had joined searches and put up fliers in the area, with a few hundred people gathering for a prayer vigil at the county courthouse the week after Kelley disappeared.

Monte Fetter, Kelley’s great-uncle, went to a Boonville community center Wednesday to help volunteers and Kelley’s friends pack up the search maps and other materials.

The family appreciated the “overwhelming” community support over the past month, Fetter told the Evansville Courier & Press.

“All we had to do was say there was going to be a search and people showed up,” he said. “If there was a need, somebody stepped up and did it.”

Friends’ and relatives’ hopes that Kelley would be found alive were raised when a 30-year-old woman was rescued Sept. 6 in nearby Posey County after being missing for two months. A couple is charged with holding the woman captive inside their rural mobile home, where authorities say she raped, beaten and kept in a small wooden cage.

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