Police find body of missing Douglas County elementary school teacher

IDLEYLD PARK, Ore. – The body of a missing elementary school teacher was found in the North Umpqua River Friday.

According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, 27-year-old Rachel Merchant-Ly of Idleyld Park had been missing since February 29.

Merchant-Ly, who was a kindergarten teacher at Glide Elementary School, was reported missing after she didn’t show up to work that day.

The morning of her disappearance, a Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy found signs of a car crash near milepost 41 on Highway 138E. Then on March 1, Merchant-Ly’s vehicle was found in the North Umpqua River, but she was not in it. Since then, there have been numerous searches by land, water, and air without any further leads.

On Friday morning a search and rescue group, including police, SAR teams, community members, and volunteer rafting groups, was organized and began searching the river. Just after 9 a.m., a volunteer found a body in the river almost 8 miles away from the crash site.

The body was identified as Rachel Merchant-Ly by the Douglas County Medical Examiner.

“I cannot thank the dedicated deputies, SAR Volunteers, agency partners and community members who have not given up on finding Rachel,” Sheriff John Hanlin said. “Commissioner Freeman and I have been in personal communication with Rachel’s husband, mother, father and extended family. They are extremely thankful for the efforts of everyone involved.”

The Sheriff’s Office was assisted throughout the investigation by Douglas County, Jackson County and Lane County Search and Rescue teams, the Oregon State Search and Rescue Coordinator, Oregon State Police, Oregon Department of Transportation, Pacific Power, Weekly Brothers, North Umpqua Outfitters, Northwest Rafters Association, Douglas County Fire District 2 and all of the community members who volunteered their time.

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