A body pulled from a canal in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Saturday was that of missing mother Kameela Russell, Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office officials confirmed.
An autopsy report revealed that Russell, 41, died from a blunt force head injury, CBS Miami reported. Her death is now being investigated as a homicide.
Carlos Austin, a spokesman for Miami Gardens Police, said it was an anonymous tip that led authorities to the canal where Russell’s badly decomposed body was found. The mother of two, who taught at Miami Norland Senior High School, was last seen May 15 as she arrived at her aunt’s house.
Relatives reported Russell missing after she failed to pick up her daughters from her aunt, who was watching them at the time. Donna Blyden recalled briefly seeing her niece in the driveway but said she never came inside.
Now Russell’s family, friends, colleagues and students are anxiously awaiting police to arrest her killer.
“She was a very nice lady. She was so giving,” student Mormare Jones told Local 10. “She was always nice to her students. She was a great person to be around. I loved Ms. Russell.”
Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, wrote on Twitter that the he and the school community were “aching” for Russell’s family and loved ones.
“[We] pray they find the strength to bear the pain of this heartbreaking loss,” Carvalho added.
Eleventh-grader Zeniah Rolle said she couldn’t help but cry when she heard the devastating news.
“She was a wonderful teacher and she brought a positive energy to people’s lives,” Rolle said of the educator.
According to Local 10 News, Russell, a Bahamas native, worked for Broward County Public Schools at Walter C. Young Middle School in Pembroke Pines from 2003 to 2014 before going to Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Before her disappearance, friends say she was planning to celebrate her students’ graduations.
Residents in the neighborhood who live down the street from Russell’s aunt’s home told CBS Miami that there had been a lot of police activity around one particular home during the height of the investigation.
Russell’s mother, Linda Russell, said she can’t think of anyone who would want to harm her daughter.
“Knowing her and the type of person she was, I just don’t understand it. I don’t understand it at all,” she told the station, adding that she’s just waiting on more details from police.
“Basically, they are just continuing the investigation now that they have recovered her body,” she continued.
Linda Russell is now watching over her 6-year-old and 15-year-old granddaughters.
A spokesperson for the family said they’re requesting privacy at this time.
Watch more in the video below.