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Fisherman snags human foot with name tattooed on it

Emergency responders search a pond near I-65 and 109th Avenue on Tuesday in Crown Point after a report of a foot snagged on a fishing line.

CROWN POINT, Ind. — A fisherman snagged a human foot Monday night in a pond near a freeway.

The foot has been identified by a distinct tattoo, police say.

Police in Avon, Indiana, a town just west of Indianapolis, said in a tweet Tuesday they had been informed that remains found in Crown Point have been preliminarily identified as a missing mother.

The human foot found by a fisherman Monday night had a tattoo that appears to spell the name, "Najah," Crown Point Police Chief Pete Land said Tuesday afternoon.

Najah Ferrell, 30, was last seen March 15, according to the Avon Police Department.

Avon Police Department investigators traveled to Crown Point and confirmed that preliminary results revealed that the tattoo matches closely with that of the missing woman Avon police have been searching for.

Upon finding the remains, Crown Point police notified the Avon Police Department.

A final positive identification cannot be made until the DNA results are known and released to the Avon police, Land said.

"We will continue to assist the Avon Police Department in any way we can in their investigation," Land said. "Hopefully the results of their DNA testing will aid them in reaching a resolution in their ongoing case."

The fisherman snagged the foot Monday night in a pond near the interchange at Interstate 65 and 109th Avenue.

Crown Point police, Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police and Crown Point Fire Rescue's Aquatic Search and Rescue Team searched until nightfall and returned to continue efforts Tuesday morning.

The Avon police held a news conference that was filmed via Facebook Live on March 28 and posted on their department page.

Avon Deputy Chief of Investigations Brian Nugent stood at a podium lined with news microphones, flanked by photos showing a smiling Ferrell and her family.

In the news conference, Avon police said Ferrell was originally reported missing to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. On March 25, the case was transferred to Avon police after it was determined that Ferrell was last seen at her residence in Avon.

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The morning she went missing, Ferrell was scheduled for a new employee orientation at Panera Bread but never arrived to work. Ever since, police have been searching vigorously for any clue that might lead them to the missing mom.

“As a department, our investigators have been working around the clock since this has taken place,” Nugent said. “To date, we've served and filed more than 30 search warrants.”

The search warrants included electronic records, vehicles and residences, Avon police said. A total of 40 interviews had been conducted by detectives as of March 28.

Ferrell's vehicle was found in late March by Indianapolis police, Avon police said.

In addition, the Indiana State Aviation Team and search dogs were used in the investigation to find Ferrell but came up empty handed — until Monday's discovery.

“The family does have ties in the Northwest Indiana area, so this area wouldn't be new to our investigations,” Nugent said. “But we weren't expecting anything to turn up where it did.”

The family declined comment. Avon police will continue to work with Crown Point police in efforts to further search the area, Nugent said.

— Times staff writer Anna Ortiz contributed to this report.

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