Mother of Missing New Orleans Teacher Pleads for Wider Search

Second-grade teacher Terrilynn Monnette was last seen at a New Orleans bar.

March 20, 2013— -- The mother of a missing New Orleans-area school teacher said it is time to broaden the nearly three-week search for her daughter.

"It should be nationwide now," Toni Enclade of Long Beach, Calif., said. "As a mother, my instincts were leading me to know that she is not in any of the areas where they've been searching. I feel and believe that someone has Terrilynn."

Police are in their third week of searching for second-grade teacher Terrilynn Monnette, 26.

Originally from Long Beach, Monnette was last seen March 2 with friends at a bar called Parlay's in the Lakeview section of New Orleans. She left the bar around 4 o'clock that Saturday morning with a male acquaintance, ABC New Orleans affiliate WGNO-TV reported, 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 manager told WGNO that Monnette and the man were talking 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 manager said.

The man has been cleared by police, who say they have no suspects or persons of interest as their investigation continues.

Police detectives are searching for Monnette's car, a three-door, black Louisiana-registered Honda Accord with license plate number WUN494, according to a missing person's flier.

An independent search team operated by the nonprofit group Texas Equusearch Search and Recovery Team had been assisting New Orleans police by searching local waterways but today called off the effort, according to the police department.

Monnette's longtime friend Lezette Montion has organized several searches and says the more time passes, the more frustrated family and friends have become.

"There are just so many bodies of water to search," Montion said. "During a search for her car last weekend, the sonar even broke."

It was a disappointing setback, Montion says.

U.S. Customs and state police have also assisted in the search for the school teacher, bringing in helicopters to conduct an aerial search around the Crescent City and Lake Pontchartrain, according to the New Orleans Police Department.

The search for Monnette has gained national attention. An anonymous donor Tuesday gave $1,000 to add to the reward money. That pocket now totals $3,600.

"It's just not enough incentive to motivate someone to come forward with information," said friend Montion, who has organized a golf tournament and silent auction for April 7 at the Belle Terre Country Club outside of New Orleans.

Montion, the missing teacher's sorority sister, hopes to continue to raise the reward total and is also in touch with the House of Blues in New Orleans and hopes the venue will play host to a concert after the golf tournament. Montion is also working to organize a fundraiser in Monnette's home state 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 said.

"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.

Police urge anyone with any information to call (504) 821-2222.