SALEM — The car in which a missing Payson woman was last seen was found Wednesday submerged in Salem Pond with a body inside.
Ellen Haskell Kay, 46, was reported missing on Nov. 11 after she borrowed her mother's car to drive to a doctor's appointment. Kay never returned home.
Payson police and the Utah County deputy sheriff's have been searching for her since.
The car was noticed at 10 a.m. by a Salem city employee working on a construction project at the lake, which had been drained several feet so the work could be completed.
Salem police then requested divers from the sheriff's search-and-rescue team to investigate.
"They came over and were able to get the license plate number off of the vehicle for us, and we determined that that vehicle has been missing since November in relation to a missing persons report out of Payson City," said Salem Police Chief Brad James.
Payson City Police and the state crime lab's forensics team were then called to the scene to aid in the investigation. The car was pulled out of the lake, and family members were notified that the car had been found.
Police have not yet confirmed that the body found was Kay, pending the results of the medical examiner's report.
But James said some of Kay's belongings were found in the vehicle.
"We did find some personal accessories, her purse," he said. "But I'll wait for the medical examiner to tell me who it is for sure."
Police say they don't suspect foul play but are treating the area as a crime scene for now.
"Nothing that we can see at this point in time is suspicious," said Payson Police Lt. Bill Wright. "But we're not ruling out anything, obviously."
Kay's husband told police at the time Kay went missing that he was worried about his wife because she had recently expressed suicidal thoughts. Kay was also said to have a history of depression and chronic back pain caused by a fall several years ago.
"Due to some medical problems she had, she was having some problems with pain, and that was the cause of some of her feelings of suicide," James said.
Police said the car had been in the lake for some time.
"It's been there for a while — what length of time, I have no idea," Wright said.
Police did not release the location of the body inside the vehicle and would not speculate on how the car ended up in the pond but said there was some damage to the hood of the car.
"It does appear that there was some type of impact coming into the water due to the fact that the hood of the car is bent and pushed up," said Wright.
Wright also said Kay's home is not far from the lake.
Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson was on the scene. Wright said that's routine.
"Whenever we have a situation like this that needs to be investigated we want to make sure we have the appropriate recommendations of our prosecuting authority here so that's standard," he said.
The pond is the site of a Christmas display each year, but the location of the car and the area of the pond where the display is located may have been different, according to Wright.
James said the water level of the pond was down about 7 feet to facilitate the construction project, and that was what made the car, which was then under about 8 feet of water, visible.