A tragic development out of Minneapolis, MN, tonight as authorities focus in on the Mississippi River in the search for Jennifer Houle. The Minneapolis Police Department found surveillance video that shows Houle either falling into or jumping into the Mississippi River on the 10th Avenue Bridge. This information came out late Sunday night when the police got reports that she was seen just a couple blocks away from the Mississippi River and the 10th Avenue Bridge. The Minneapolis Police Department had been searching for clues all day Sunday as to try to pinpoint her last moves, and were going over surveillance videos from stores around the area she was last seen. The Minneapolis Police Department began looking through the 10th Avenue Bridge camera footage from that night, which showed Houle on tape heading into the water.
The Minneapolis Police Department is considering this to be a water recovery effort at this point in time, which means the police have basically ruled Houle is likely dead after the fall. The police department also confirmed that they are not looking at any suspects in this case, since the video tape seems to show that foul play was not at all a factor. Underwater search crews are using remote-controlled underwater vehicles as part of the recovery effort, and are also using sonar technology, which would indicate anything under the water. The 10th Avenue Bridge is 110 feet above the water, so if Houle fell into the water or purposely jumped off the bridge, there is essentially zero chance she would survive such an impact.
The Minneapolis Police are not yet saying exactly how she went into the water, whether on purpose or on accident, but the police spokesman John Elder is acting under the assumption that she did not survive the impact either way. So far no body has been found in the recovery effort. The Hennepin County Sheriffs office is doing a search by shore and within the Mississippi River itself, but they are starting near the bridge and then working downstream. It’s hard to say exactly where Houle’s body would be located in the water, since it depends on the weather and the current, and a number of other factors.
Although the Minneapolis Police Department is unsure of exactly how the events of the night unfolded, they do know she left the bar sometime between 1 am and 2 am Friday. All the police are saying now is that Houle was at the 10th Avenue Bridge and already in the water before Houle’s purse was found, which was at 3 am. It is hard to conclude what exactly that means since she could have been stumbling out of the bar after drinking, dropped her purse, and then fell into the water. There is also the scenario of that it was intentional, which means she dumped her purse, and then dove into the water. Police are not saying yet in which manner they believe Houle ended up in the water, but reports about Houle have not indicated any signs that she would end her own life.
There will be counselors at the University of Minnesota to help the students and teachers deal with the tragic situation that is developing. The counselors will also focus on the Pi Beta Phi sorority members, since Houle was a member, and a loving sorority sister to all of the girls. There will also be a vigil for Houle, which is planned for Tuesday night on the font plaza of Coffman Memorial Union on the campus, and it will take place around sunset. The family of Houle is asking for privacy right now, as they struggle to come to terms with the fact that Houle is more than likely not coming home, in what appears to be nothing more than a tragic accident after a night out. The family has not come out to say whether or not any funeral plans are being made or if they are, if it is open to the public. It is not clear if the family has made those arrangements yet or if they are waiting on confirmation of a body before they proceed in that direction.