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Body of missing Salt Lake City woman found in car off Bangerter Highway

Posted at 3:10 PM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 23:08:25-05

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — The body of Salt Lake City woman Valerie Gardner, who had been missing since November 26, was found in car off Bangerter Highway Tuesday night.

Gardner's family told FOX 13 in a previous interview that Valerie was 46 years old and lived in an apartment in Salt Lake City with a roommate and a cat.

Read - Family concerned about Utah woman missing 2+ weeks

She spent time with family on Thanksgiving and was seen leaving for work at Sundance Clothing in West Valley City but never returned home and family didn't hear from her again.

Wednesday afternoon, Utah Highway Patrol confirmed that a body found in a vehicle near State Route 201 and Bangerter Highway in West Valley City was identified at Gardner.

A Facebook page that was made by family and friends to help search for Valerie also shared the tragic news. The post reads in part, "Little information is known at this time. More will be shared with us in the coming days, and we will share what we can. Thank you for loving Valerie and for your support and efforts to find her."

Taylor Richens and her husband were driving down Frontage Rd. Tuesday night. Richens’ husband is a duck hunter, was looking for ducks in the pond when he spotted Gardner’s car.

“We got out to see if we could see anybody and see if it had just happened, and we couldn’t see anybody or see anything, so I told my husband, ‘Call the cops,’” said Richens.

The Utah Highway Patrol said that on the day Gardner was last seen, someone called 911 reporting they saw a vehicle go down into the water. Troopers came by around dusk and didn’t see anything.

“Unfortunately at that point, they were unable to see her vehicle and unable to find any evidence that a crash had occurred as far as tracks going off in the dirt or anything like that,” said Lt. Jalaine Hawkes.

Hawkes said weather was clear on the day she disappeared. Now, investigators are hoping nearby security footage or autopsy results can help piece together what happened.

“At this time we have no evidence of foul play but we have not completely ruled it out,” said Hawkes.