The woman found in a submerged car at Cedar Creek Lake in Log Cabin on Friday has been identified as Brenda Montanez.
“It is her,” Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said. “We didn't release her name on Friday. But we know it's her.”
Preliminary autopsy results show that Montanez, 25, of Addison, likely drowned.
“There is no trauma to the body at all,” Hillhouse said. “So nothing happened to her before she went into the water. Water was found in her lungs. That's all we have until the toxicology report comes back.”
After investigators asked Texas Equusearch officials to join the search, sonar was used to find the 2011 Mazda Montanez was driving on Jan. 27. The car was near the boat ramp on Alamo Road.
“Nothing led us there,” Hillhouse said. “We had been checking other areas, but the last phone ping actually told us to check another boat ramp. And that's what we were really focusing on.”
Montanez reportedly went to her boyfriend's house in the early-morning hours of Jan. 27 after leaving a party in Plano. She knocked on the door but he refused to answer. After he called 911, Montanez left the property.
“I do know that when she left his house, she left in the opposite direction of where she would normally go,” Hillhouse said. “A light is (at the ramp) but I haven't been there in a long time at night. There were no skid marks, and the windows were not down. All kinds of factors could be involved. It was night time, and she doesn't know the area.”
But officials do not suspect foul play.
"On Friday while we were recovering the car and Brenda (her boyfriend) came up to our office while we were at the lake," Hillhouse said. "He didn't know we were out there. He met with a polygraph examiner of ours and he passed the polygraph test on Friday. He has been cooperative, and we really don't feel like there's any foul play."
Sheriff's investigators joined the search for Montanez more than a week ago after family members asked for help. Family and friends had also searched the Log Cabin area.
A dive team from the Mabank Fire Department helped remove the car from the water.
“There was front-end damage from the impact of the water,” Hillhouse said. “It was probably in 10 to 15 feet of water. We just had a wrecker back down into the water and pulled the winch out there. Divers went down and hooked the winch to the car.”
A full autopsy report could take three months to complete, Hillhouse said.
Log Cabin, a community of about 750 people, is about 15 miles northwest of Athens.