Body in Mississippi river that of missing Louisiana woman

Published 4:41 pm Monday, June 28, 2021

WAVELAND — Authorities on Saturday confirmed a body pulled from a Mississippi waterway just off Interstate 10 is that of a Louisiana woman reported missing earlier this week.

Hancock County Coroner Derek Turnage said evidence recovered at the scene points to the body recovered as that of Courtney Johnson, 34, of Madisonville, La.

Johnson’s car, with her body inside, was found Friday submerged in water in Hancock County. Friends and family said she had been headed to Biloxi to meet up with friends. But when she never checked into her hotel, friends knew something was wrong. Their last contact with her was about 6 p.m. on Tuesday, when Johnson told them she was traveling east on Interstate 12.

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St. Tammany Parish sheriff’s investigators asked for help from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department on Friday. An auto locator on Johnson’s car showed her last reported location as being on Interstate 10 near mile marker 2, about eight miles across the state line into Mississippi. Investigators were targeting an area where it appeared a vehicle had left the road. A later search revealed a submerged car, with a body inside, that was subsequently pulled from the water.

“I do not wish this upon anybody to go through what we are going through,” Johnson’s mother, Tracy Johnson, told WWL-TV. “This is my one and only child. My one and only child.”

The Mississippi Highway Patrol is handling the investigation into the fatal crash, news outlets reported. Foul play is not suspected, authorities said.

Turnage said an autopsy will be conducted Monday to confirm the cause of death.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Courtney during this difficult time,” St. Tammany Sheriff Randy Smith said, WLOX-TV reported.