The Avon Police Department is categorizing the Najah Ferrell case as a “death investigation” for the immediate future, WXIN reports.
During an update Wednesday afternoon, Deputy Chief of Investigations Brian Nugent said police suspect foul play in the case. However, the cause and manner of death are currently undetermined, meaning it can't be classified as a homicide investigation until they uncover more information.
Nugent stressed that investigators consider the identification of remains found in Crown Point this week preliminary. They won't consider her identity confirmed until they receive the results of a DNA test, which could take weeks.
CROWN POINT, Ind. (WXIN) -- Police in northwestern Indiana believe a human foot found in a pond may be that of a missing Avon woman.
Police responded to the scene Monday afternoon after a fisherman reported catching what appeared to be a foot. Crown Point police Chief Pete Land said officers on the scene confirmed the remains were human.
Avon police believe the remains belong to Najah Ferrell, who was reported missing several weeks ago. Avon police are working with Crown Point investigators and Ferrell's family knows of the update. However, police are waiting on the results of DNA tests.
"We did find out that the human remains that were located did have a tattoo," said Brian Nugent, Deputy Chief of the Avon Police Department. "So at that point our investigators began examining that evidence itself and trying to make a preliminary declaration, identification that it might be that of Najah Ferrell."
Ferrell, 30, was last seen in the early morning hours of March 15. Since then, police have recovered items belonging to her near I-65 and Lafayette Road. They found her car at 86th Street and Michigan Road.
Still, they don't know what happened to her. Police have served more than 30 search warrants for electronic records, vehicles and homes. They've conducted about 40 interviews.
Monday and Tuesday, investigators scoured the retention pond using sonar, divers and a drone. The pond sits along the interstate exit ramp and a neighborhood backs up to it.
Ferrell has three foster children and two biological children.
Avon police say it appears the case is shifting from a missing persons case to a death investigation.
Police are still asking anyone with information about Ferrell's disappearance to call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS (8477). Callers can remain anonymous.