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Coroner: Jacquelyn Watts' death ruled an accidental drowning

Posted at 1:25 PM, Mar 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-07 00:07:30-05

COLUMBUS, Ind. -- An Indianapolis woman found dead on a sandbar in a Columbus river drowned, the Bartholomew County coroner said Monday afternoon.

Jacquelyn Watts, 33, had driven to Columbus Friday to drop off her animals at her parents' house. She was found dead Saturday morning near the Flatrock River.

Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton R. Nolting determined Watts' cause of death to be an accidental drowning.

Two people saw Watts chasing a small, lost dog before she was reported missing by her family on Friday. 

"There was a lot of speculation into what occurred," Columbus Police Lt. Matt Harris said. "The bottom line is, we lost a very special person."

RELATED | Jacquelyn Watts: Indy woman found dead in Columbus was animal activist

Dr. John Quick read a statement from Watts' family at a press conference on Monday:

"It has lifted up our hearts to see that Jackie has touched so many lives," the statement read. "Jackie's compassion for others was evident throughout her life. ... She was an inspiration to those who knew her, always placing others before herself. She lived and loved with great humility.

"Oh, that we would be filled with enough passion to give our lives for what we believe in."

Harris gave a detailed timeline of Watts' disappearance.

Friday

  • 1:30 p.m.: Jacquelyn drops off two dogs and a rabbit in Columbus
  • 1:54 p.m.: Jacquelyn seen on home security camera leaving residence and heading toward Washington Street
  • 2 p.m.: Witness sees woman matching Jacquelyn's description chasing small dog near 23rd and Washington streets
  • 2:15 p.m. - 3 p.m. Two witnesses find abandoned vehicle on Riverside Drive
  • 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.: Witness sees woman matching Jacquelyn's description next to Flatrock River trying to catch a small dog that was wearing a sweater
  • 4:51 p.m.: Officers respond to report of missing person

Saturday

  • 7:45 a.m.: Ground search continues
  • 8:01 a.m.: Watts' body found
  • 8:09 p.m.: Tip received about missing dog wearing a sweater

Sunday: 

  • 12:29 p.m.: Police continue search of Flatrock River
  • 2:11 p.m.: Missing dog, Ringo, found on bank of the river
  • 3:20 p.m.: Investigators talk with witnesses who saw Watts chasing the dog. They confirmed the dog she was chasing was Ringo, based on photos of it

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