Woman in decade-old missing person case found in Howard County pond


HOWARD COUNTY, Ind. — A Kokomo family is getting some closure 10 years after a Howard County woman went missing.

In 2009, family members of Ester Westenbarger say she walked out of Miller’s Bar to get her car parked at another bar and head home. She never arrived.

The search was on, but it would not be until 10 years later that their search would come to a tragic end.

Two fishermen were in the area of Webster Street and 300 North when they saw what they believed might be an algae-covered vehicle on the bottom of the small retention pond by a small rural development.

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.

“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” Westenbarger’s brother, Bill “Scratch” Pelfree said Thursday.

Ester’s family would have their assumption confirmed when an autopsy preliminarily indicated that Ester Westenbarger was indeed inside the vehicle. However, the information will have to be confirmed through forensic dentistry or DNA.

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.

While the missing person case did not end on a positive note, family members say knowing what happened to their relative gives them at least some closure.

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

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