(NEW ORLEANS) — New Orleans police and family members are frantically searching for an elementary school teacher who has been missing since last Saturday.
Twenty-six-year-old Terrilynn Monnette was last seen with friends at a bar in the Lakeview section of the Crescent City last Friday evening. She left the bar around 4 o’clock Saturday morning with a male acquaintance, reported ABC’s New Orleans affiliate WGNO, telling her friends that she was going to take a nap in her car before driving home because she’d had a few drinks.
The bar’s general manager told WGNO that the two talked in the parking lot “for a little while,” but the bar’s video surveillance showed they left in separate cars. “He went one way, she went the other,” the bar manager said.
An eyewitness has told police that he saw the missing teacher with an unidentified man in the bar’s parking lot, according to information on the missing person’s flyer that Monnette’s family has been distributing.
Police detectives are searching for Monnette’s car — a black Louisiana-registered Honda Accord with license plate number WUN494, according to the missing person’s flyer.
They are also looking at area surveillance tapes, including one from an adjacent bank, reported WGNO.
Thursday morning a handful of people fanned out in the area near the bar, where the 5 feet 8 inch 180-pound woman was last seen. Monnette’s longtime friend and sorority sister Lezette Montion, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, has taken time off to help with the search.
”I have the experience to deal with land navigation and hunting — and that’s kind of in a sense what we are doing,” Montion told ABC News. “We’re hunting for clues. Anything that will kind of tip us off, because all we have to go off is the video from the bar.”
“We’ve already found a calculator and brief case,” said Monnette, items friends hope will help police in their investigation. “And, you know, we women…carry our whole world in our cars sometimes, and none of us know what she had in her vehicle.”
It is not clear whether the located items belonged to the missing teacher.
“It’s a huge area to cover in the search,” said Montion. “I would just like as many people as possible to come help us look.”
The search was to continue for the next couple of days, but, according to Montion, the detectives investigating the case asked her team of volunteers to stop the search out of fear that it would “contaminate” evidence. According to Montion, police told her they would resume the search Saturday — a full week after Monnette disappeared.
“New Orleans is huge and it’s surrounded by water. How could you stop searching for a loved one?” Montion told ABC News.
Calls to the New Orleans Police Department by ABC News were not immediately returned.
A native of California, Monnette had been teaching in the New Orleans area for two years, and recently became a second-grade teacher at Woodland West Elementary school in Jefferson Parish. Woodland West Principal Amy Hoyle said Monnette showed outstanding promise.
“She came after the school year started, which is usually hard for teachers. But she handled it great, and she emerged quickly as a teacher leader,” Hoyle told ABC News.
“She took the lowest-performing classes, and in a matter of four months, she turned those students into some of our highest achievers.”
Hoyle said Monnette’s colleagues and second-grade students were, “all very aware that this is going on.” Woodland West Elementary has provided grief counselors, Hoyle said.
Police urge anyone with any information to call 504-821-2222.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Nicole Chavez, CNN
Chandrika Narayan, CNN