A group of volunteer firefighters searching for a woman who has been missing since Thursday night found her body Saturday morning, Toms River police confirmed.
Search crews found the body of Martha Hesse, 79, of Mt. Fairweather Lane, in a wooded area in the Holiday City senior community, said police spokesman Ralph Stocco. No foul play is suspected, however an autopsy is pending.
Hesse was located Saturday morning near the westernmost end of Yorktown Boulevard by volunteer members of Toms River Fire Companies No. 1 and No. 2 who were continuing search efforts that initially began on Thursday evening when she was first reported missing by her husband. Previous efforts to locate Hesse involved the use of a flat bottom boat equipped with underwater sonar, a New Jersey State Police helicopter deploying infrared thermal technology, as well as 40 volunteers from various police, fire, and EMS agencies. Additionally, Toms River investigators spent Friday following up on numerous tips and potential sightings of Hesse that came in from the community and social media followers, Stocco said.
Hesse’s husband told police that his wife had driven her car from the Mt. Fairweather Lane home to an unknown location. She was last seen possibly wearing a tee shirt and pajama pants. After failing to hear from her for several hours, he called police to report her missing. The woman’s vehicle was located a little after 6 p.m. near the community lake on Thursday.
Detective Randy Petrick of the Toms River Criminal Investigative Bureau is leading the investigation in conjunction with detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutors Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office. Anyone who may have seen or interacted with Hesse on Thursday or Friday should contact Petrick at 732-349-1050, extension 1235, or firstname.lastname@example.org, Stocco said.
Stocco offered condolences to Hesse’s family on behalf of the police department.