Authorities in Georgia discovered the body of 24-year-old Maranda Whitten earlier this week. The three-day search for the recent college graduate concluded Monday when Whitten was found dead in West Point Lake after an apparent suicide, the Daily Mail reported.
Whitten, who disappeared during a family kayaking trip Friday afternoon, is believed to have intentionally orchestrated her own drowning. The Alabama native was discovered with an extension cord tied to her ankles and a large rock, officials from the Troup County Sheriff’s Office said.
NEWS RELEASEThe search for Maranda Whitten has unfortunately been suspended. Maranda was found earlier this morning a…
“The search for Maranda Whitten has unfortunately been suspended,” Troup County Sheriff’s Sgt. Stewart Smith said in a statement Monday.
“Maranda was found earlier this morning, a victim of an apparent drowning,” the statement continued. “As standard procedure, her body will be sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy.”
Authorities are treating the drowning as a suicide.
Whitten’s empty blue kayak was discovered Friday at around 2:30 p.m., about two hours after she was last seen. Her paddle, life jacket and uncharged phone were still inside.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Maranda’s family,” the statement said.
Over the weekend, authorities from various state and local agencies, along with dozens of volunteers, participated in the frantic search for Whitten.
The woman’s mother, Tabatha Whitten, was initially surprised by her daughter’s disappearance. She told Newsweek that Maranda was an experienced hiker and kayaker who “lived on water all her life,” and expressed her hope that she had ventured out into the deep woods near her grandmother and aunt’s campground.
“I think she made it back to shore,” Tabatha Whitten said, adding that her daughter was “very active” and enjoyed venturing out to “places that people miss.”
“If she was in distress, Maranda would have sense enough to put a life jacket on, and the paddle wouldn’t have been left in the kayak,” she noted.
But Whitten also revealed that Maranda, who graduated from Auburn University this past spring, had shown signs of deep depression. The mother expressed concern when authorities told her that a large orange extension cord was missing from her daughter’s camper, adding that she had a “bad feeling” about it.
Tabatha shared that Maranda had been “majorly depressed” since graduating from Auburn. She recalled noticing some potentially suspicious behavior in her daughter the night before she went missing.
“She did hug me, but it wasn’t an overly respectful hug,” Tabatha said. “The words were very few.”
She noted that Maranda was embarrassed after having to move back in with her mother following her graduation in May. The 24-year-old had also recently broken up with her boyfriend and was overwhelmed with credit card debt.
“Maranda is highly intelligent and seemed on track all her years back in college,” Tabatha said. “She had the idea that she would land that big job.”
But when reality failed to live up to her expectations, Maranda “went into major depression,” Tabatha said, adding, “Everything hadn’t been going her way.”
The young woman’s mother recounted a tough conversation she had with Whitten a few days before her daughter’s apparent suicide. She asked Maranda if she had been “doing anything drug-wise.”
“She told us, ‘You’re crazy that you would even think that!’ and ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about!’” she recalled. “We had a family conflict because of that.”
On the evening of that tumultuous exchange, Whitten announced her plans to visit her grandmother and aunt at West Point Lake.
Speaking to Newsweek, Tabatha expressed her regret over pressing her daughter about any potential struggles with drugs or depression.
“We shouldn’t have been making those accusations,” she said.
(H/T: Daily Mail)