News and Tribune

December 15, 2012

Likely body, car of missing Sellersburg teen Ethan Bennett discovered

Officials waiting to confirm identity, situation around death

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — The search for a missing Sellersburg teenager has apparently ended tragically.

Officials confirmed they discovered a body Friday inside a car believed to have been driven by Ethan Bennett, 19, who has been missing since Sept. 11. The car and body were found off Skyline Drive in Floyd County in a ravine that drops more than 750 feet from the roadway.

Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said during a press conference Saturday that efforts were ongoing to identify the body, and that more details would likely be known Monday.

He said there were no breaks in the fencing around the drop off area, but that investigators will be examining the scene to determine if the vehicle could have possibly been airborne when it crossed the barrier.

Due to the deteriorated condition of the car, Henderson estimated it had likely been in the wreckage spot for several weeks.

“We can’t talk in terms at this point if it was intentional or unintentional,” Henderson said of the wreck.

Bennett was last seen by a family member on the night of Sept. 11, and the Clark County Sheriff’s Department had stated they didn’t feel the case was a criminal matter.

A witness did report they saw Bennett driving the 2001 silver Jaguar he was seen leaving the family’s home in Sept. 14 on Veterans Parkway in Clarksville.

Henderson didn’t confirm whether or not the officials suspected foul play, suicide or just a loss of control in the wreck, only that local investigators would stick to their normal process for determining the cause of death.

“This is a process that we use ... to investigate this from start to finish and not make any presumptions,” Henderson said.

The missing-person report was filed with the Clark County Sheriff’s Department, and the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office also has assisted in the investigation and will continue to do so considering where the car and body were found.

Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden said his department along with Bennett’s family had contracted a private helicopter service to aid in the search. It was from that helicopter Clark County officers spotted the wrecked car. Rodden said they were searching the area because the family had stated it was a spot Bennett liked to frequent to enjoy the view.

“We’re relatively sure” the car and body found are Bennett’s, Rodden said.

The family has been notified of the discovery, officials said. Rodden credited the family for posting signs, using social media and raising awareness to try and locate Bennett.

“The family worked very diligently in wanting him to come home,” Rodden said.

Bennett was apparently distraught after learning that his parents were splitting up, Rodden said during the press conference.

Investigators “feel he was a disturbed young man but we don’t know much more than that,” Rodden said.

Skyline Drive covers some of the highest points in Floyd County.

Floyd County Sheriff Darrell Mills said another vehicle was found near the investigation site that apparently had been wrecked in the area in the past. He said he would have to confirm all the statistics, but there have previously been wrecks in the area.

Officials were still determining whether Bennett’s suspected vehicle would be removed from the site, as Henderson and Mills said the terrain of the area would make it very difficult and likely costly to extract.

Henderson stressed that if officials felt the vehicle would be needed for the investigation, that it would be removed.