SALEM, N.J. (CBS) — The body of a Maple Shade woman missing for nearly six years was found in a car submerged in the Salem River on Thursday. New Jersey State Police say the human remains are those of 52-year-old Vanessa Smallwood.
Smallwood’s family says the discovery of their loved one’s remains is bittersweet. They finally have some sort of closure but they still have more questions than answers right now.
“Complete and total hell,” Smallwood’s cousin, Jenuita Lobster, said.
That’s how Smallwood’s family describes the six years since she disappeared. Lobster says Smallwood was her favorite cousin and was loved by many.
“Vanessa was a very small sweetheart. Vanessa was very caring, especially when it came to family and her boys,” Lobster said.
Divers from the Walker Diving Underwater Construction Company were removing debris from the base of the Salem River, near West Broadway Road, on Thursday afternoon, when they spotted what appeared to be human remains.
The State Police Marine Services Bureau, Crime Scene and Major Crimes Units were called to the scene to remove the car.
The remains were then taken to the Southern Regional Coroner’s Office for an autopsy, where they were subsequently identified as those of the missing woman.
Smallwood was last seen on Jan. 27, 2014, at the Any Garment Cleaners in Cherry Hill.
It’s not yet known how Smallwood ended up in the river or how long she was submerged for.
“Now comes the hard part, finding out the details,” Lobster said.
Police are still investigating.
CBS3’s Kimberly Davis contributed to this report.