Body of missing St. Helena woman found in creek near home

astice@islandpacket.comAugust 27, 2012 

The body of 46-year-old Zenobia Pauline Simmons, who was reported missing by relatives on Friday, was recovered in a creek near her St. Helena Island home on Sunday afternoon a short distance from her family's dock.

Authorities had searched for her by land, air and sea but a family friend is credited with finding her while out on his boat.

Isaiah Daise of St. Helena said he and others launched their boats at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday to search for Simmons. He and his search party are longtime friends of the family, having been raised and gone to school with Simmons.

After having no success in the morning, Daise said he took Simmons' relatives out in his truck to walk along the marshes, but again had no luck.

He was back out on the water in the afternoon, preparing to call it a day, when he saw the body at about 4:40 p.m. along the marsh, about 100 feet from the Simmons' dock.

The long, winding creek behind the Simmons' home on Vineyard Point Road doesn't have an official name, but locals know it as Scott Hill Creek. Soon after the discovery, the creek was swarming with boats launched by S.C. Department of Natural Resources officials, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and Beaufort Water Search & Rescue.

The body's discovery put an end to an exhaustive search that began Friday afternoon, when Simmons' relatives reported her missing. Deputies and K-9 units searched on land while a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division helicopter searched a 7-mile radius, according to Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Sgt. Robin McIntosh. Marine patrol and the Sheriff's Office dive team searched the creek behind Simmons' home, including a line drag search of the water. A reverse 911 call alerted residents within a 20-square-mile radius to Simmons' disappearance.

Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen said an autopsy is scheduled for today at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and that no cause of death has been established. The Sheriff's Office investigation continues, but foul play is not suspected.

Daise said finding Simmons will help put the family's fears over her disappearance to rest.

"At least the family can be at ease," he said.

Related content:

Authorities searching for missing St. Helena woman, Aug. 26, 2012

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