COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) — Officials at the Columbus Police Department held a press conference Monday afternoon to discuss the case of the missing woman found dead Saturday morning.
An autopsy Monday revealed Watts drowned when she entered the Flatrock River in an attempt to rescue a dog.
Police say they received several reports of people saying they saw someone matching her description on the day she disappeared.
Watts, who volunteered with two local animal rescue groups, was known for her love for animals.
She was reported missing Friday afternoon. Investigators had said that Watts was dropping off pets at a relative’s house and hadn’t been heard from since. She had been planning to leave town for a vacation.
Her body was found early Saturday morning on a sandbar on the Flatrock River after a search was conducted.
Police found Watts’ car near the 2300 block of Riverside Drive in Columbus. The passenger door was open, the car’s hazard lights were blinking and the car engine was on idling. Watt’s cell phone and purse were inside the car when police found it.
A timeline of her disappearance was release during the presser. Investigators said this investigation is like “a large puzzle.”
After discussing the case with witnesses, police believe Watts was trying to catch a small dog wearing a white dog named Ringo. Social media posts have circulated showing Ringo. Ringo’s body was found as well, further south from Watts was found.
“We lost a very special person,” said Lt. Matt Harris with the Columbus Police Department.
John Quick is a family friend who read an emotional statement from the family Monday.
“Jackie was an inspiration to those who knew her, always placing others before herself,” Quick read. “If she was going to help an animal in need we know that she was going to do so without hesitation. We know that Jackie gave her life for what she believed in.”
Watts was a wife, a sister, a daughter and a Butler University graduate.
She served on the board of directors for IndyClaw, a local animal rescue group. The group is encouraging people to donate to IndyClaw in Watts’ name. The donations with Watts’ name will go to a project Watts was very excited about: the extension of a bunny barn.
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