Authorities believe body in lake is missing woman
Ypsilanti Township — A body found in a Washtenaw County lake is believed to be that of a woman who disappeared a year ago, according to the sheriff's office.
"Although it still needs to be confirmed by the medical examiner, we believe that this is Tonya Jackson," Washtenaw County Sheriff's spokesman Derrick Jackson said Thursday.
Jackson said divers discovered a female body around 3 a.m. Thursday in Ford Lake, about a mile from the missing woman's former apartment. The apartment is part of a complex adjacent to the lake, Jackson said. He is not related to the missing woman.
The lake was searched this week after pedestrians on Tuesday found Tonya Jackson's wallet nearby.
"We're thankful those citizens made that choice to make the call (to police)," Derrick Jackson said. "That really turned this case for us."
Jackson said the medical examiner will make an official identification and determine cause of death.
"I think that cause of death on the medical examiner's report is going to be really important to us," he said. "If there's a way to determine that, it'll dictate our next steps investigatively."
Jackson said it appears the wallet was submerged in the lake at one point.
"How it got to the shore where they found it, we're not sure," he said. "And we're not sure how long it was there."
Tonya Jackson's sister, Nikeyta Evans, told The Ann Arbor News that detectives informed her of the discovery of the body early Thursday.
Evans said "they're sure it's her."
Jackson said authorities also pulled two vehicles from the lake early Thursday. He could not provide descriptions of the vehicles.
"I'm waiting for investigators to brief me on the vehicles but at this time I cannot confirm anything related to the vehicles," he said.
The Ann Arbor News reported a witness saw police pull a silver SUV from the lake.
Jackson, a 34-year-old mother of three from Ypsilanti Township, was driving a silver Saab SUV when she was last seen May 3, 2014, at a Romulus motel with a co-worker. That co-worker was questioned at the time along with the woman's family and friends, Derrick Jackson said.
"Everybody was very cooperative," Jackson said of the early investigation.
There was no activity on Tonya Jackson's credit cards, bank accounts or cellphone after she went missing, police said. Investigators looked into an early lead about three weeks after she went missing, when a note with her name on it was found in an Englewood, Ohio, restaurant.
"We couldn't confirm that it was actually her. It was a tip that did not pan out," Derrick Jackson said. "It was believed there was someone down in that area with the same name, so (the note) was most likely related to this other individual."
The Associated Press contributed.