Family of Howard County woman hopes for closure after car containing body pulled from pond


HOWARD COUNTY — After 10 long years, a family may finally get answers about what happened to a missing Howard County woman.

This comes after a car was pulled from a retention pond with a body inside.

“It’s been heart-wrenching on the family. I mean, it’s been 10 years. She’s been missing since November 2009 on the 11th,” said Esther Westenbarger’s brother, Daniel Pelfree.

A little over a decade ago, Westenbarger’s family was searching everywhere for her.

“You have to live everyday life but yet you still have asked what? Why? How? Who?” said Westenbarger’s daughter, Mathilda Rood.

After years of the unknown, two fishermen may be the ones credited for finding her after a car was pulled from a pond Wednesday in Howard County.

“That’s my sister’s car. It’s Ester’s car, there’s no doubt about it. It’s Ester’s car. Whether or not that’s her in there or not, we don’t know that” said Westenbarger’s brother, Bill “Scratch” Pelfree.

Westenbarger was last seen walking to her Cadillac that was parked at Hoosier bar in 2009.

Family members think she got in her car and drove down Webster to head home. Instead of coming to a stop, they believe she drove right into the pond.

Family members say when the authorities pulled out the car from the pond, they felt and thought right away it was Westenbarger’s car because of the license plate.

“It said ‘MSESTER’ from Ohio,” Rood said. 

Family recognized the car right away, but it’s going to take an autopsy to find out specifically who was in the car pulled from the water.

The Howard County Sheriff’s Office says they’re not going to speculate on who it is because it’s not fair to the families involved.

The autopsy for the body found is scheduled for Thursday, and the car is currently being looked at by detectives.

Esther’s family is holding on to hope it is her so they can finally have some closure.

“She was a great lady, a great sister, a mother and a grandmother. I mean, she loved her family very much,” Daniel said.

“I feel like prayers and everyone who has prayed for us, those have been answered,” said Westenbarger’s son, Dustin.

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