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Body of actress Naya Rivera found in California lake, officials say

Alex Wigglesworth, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- A body found in Lake Piru is that of actress Naya Rivera, who disappeared five days ago during a boat outing with her young son, authorities said Monday.

"Based on the location where the body was found, the physical characteristics of the body, the clothing found on the body and the physical condition of the body, as well as the absence of any other persons reported missing in the area, we are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera," Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said at an afternoon news conference. Detectives have found no indication of foul play, or that Rivera's death was a suicide, he said.

The body was being taken to the Ventura County medical examiner's office, where an autopsy will be performed and a positive identification will officially be made using dental records, officials said.

Search teams found the body at about 9:10 a.m. floating in the northeastern portion of the lake, Capt. Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department said earlier in the day.

The area was searched extensively by dive crews and with sonar equipment over the last several days, he said.

"That particular area, when it was searched by divers, they were literally crawling on hands and knees at the bottom of the lake attached by ropes so they could make their way back out because visibility is so poor," Buschow said. "That gives you kind of an idea of what the conditions were like."


The body probably was submerged for days, concealed by the 15- to 20-foot-high trees and brush that grow on the bed of the lake, before surfacing Monday, he said.

"The body looked as though it had been in the water for several days," Ayub confirmed.

Divers, helicopters, drone aircraft and cadaver dogs have been searching for Rivera since Wednesday afternoon. The 33-year-old actress, who gained fame for her role on "Glee," was reported missing after her 4-year-old son was found asleep in a rental boat adrift on the Ventura County lake by himself. A leasing agent had launched a search for the watercraft because it was overdue for return, officials said.

Authorities later learned that Rivera and her son were swimming together in the lake and that he was able to get back on the boat, but she had not.


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