MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – A body pulled from a Miami Gardens canal is that of missing woman Kameela Russell, according to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office.
A verification of death certificate reveals the autopsy shows Russell died from blunt head injury and her death is being ruled a homicide.
The badly decomposed body was discovered Saturday afternoon in a canal at NW 207th Street and 15th Avenue, following an anonymous tip, according to Miami Gardens police spokesman Carlos Austin.
Russell, a 41-year-old mother of two, was last seen Wednesday, May 15 as she pulled up to her aunt’s home along NW 203rd Street and 15th Avenue.
Russell was a teacher at Miami Norland Senior High School.
As school ended for the day on Wednesday, students told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that Russell had inspired them.
“She was a great person and she had such a nice personality,” said 10th grader Shannay Moore.
11th grader Zeniah Rolle said, “She was a wonderful teacher and she brought a positive energy to people’s lives.”
“When you heard what happened, what were you thinking?” Asked D’Oench.
“I was crying,” said Rolle.
Mormare Jones, a 10th grader, said, “She was a very nice lady. She was always so giving and she was nice to students. She was very impressive and everybody loved Ms. Russell.
I was flabbergasted when I heard about this. I wouldn’t have thought that something so horrible would happen to someone so good.”
Tasha Smith, a parent of student at Miami Norland Senior High School, said she and other parents received a “robe all” from the school district in which she was told that police were trying to find out what happened. She also said “That’s sad. My daughter knew her. She was very nice and helpful to students. It is taking a toll on the kids.”
Residents in the neighborhood that live down the street from where Russel’s aunt lives say there was a lot of police activity around one particular home during the height of the investigation.
They say a mother and her son live there.
The home is also near the canal where the body was found.
Residents say the mother and son have not been seen for a while.
A statement by Miami-Dade County Public Schools reads, “Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) is deeply saddened about the painful and shocking news involving the passing of a Miami Norland Senior High School teacher. All available counseling resources will be deployed to the school immediately to assist students and staff during this extremely difficult time. School district staff and Miami-Dade Schools Police will continue to work with the Miami Gardens Police Department, which has been handling this case since the employee’s disappearance from her home. The entire M-DCPS family is heartbroken. We ask that the community join us as we keep Kameela Russell’s loved ones in our prayers.”
Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also tweeted about the tragedy.
An unbearably painful week for @MDCPS. We ache for Kameela Russell’s grieving loved ones and pray they find the strength to bear the pain of this heartbreaking loss. District Crisis team has been deployed to @MiamiNorlandSHS to help students and staff during this difficult time.
— Alberto M. Carvalho (@MiamiSup) May 29, 2019
Late Wednesday morning, Miami Garens Police Chief Delma Noel-Pratt led a delegation of police officers as they went to the aunt’s home and told them the sad news.
The Chief told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that she didn’t have anything to say about the case and was not releasing any details. She and her officers spent more than 30 minutes at the home.
Anyone with information that can help them should call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477). There’s a reward of up to $3,000.
A family spokesman said loved ones are asking for privacy and did not want to say anything.
On May 20th, Russell’s aunt Donna Blyden told CBS4’S Joan Murray that on the day Russell disappeared, Blyden was waiting for Kameela to pick up her 6-year-old daughter from her home.
“I have been taking care of her since she was a baby,” said Blyden. “She knows the bond we have. It’s unusual for Kameela not to get her children when it’s time to get them. I keep praying that Kameela comes back to us.”