Body of missing woman found

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   Two fishermen walking along the banks of the Watauga River discovered the body of a young female Wednesday afternoon. According to police, the body was identified as that of an Elizabethton woman who has been missing since Sunday night.
   The body of Kristal Gale Dubuque, 22, of 427 W. G St., Apt. 11, was found around 1:45 p.m., according to Carter County Sheriff John Henson. Dubuque's body was found on the bank of the river approximately one-quarter of a mile down stream from where her abandoned vehicle was found early Monday morning underneath the Hunter Bridge.
   Members of the Carter County Rescue Squad's Swift Water Rescue Team searched the portion of the river where her body was found on Monday and Tuesday, and a helicopter from the Tennessee Highway Patrol assisted by doing an aerial search of the area. During those searches, no sign of Dubuque's body was found.
   "The body could have been caught up on something underneath the water and washed up on the bank last night or this morning," Henson said Wednesday afternoon. "They usually generate this river at night and that might have caused her to wash up."
   Forensic pathologists from the Quillen College of Medicine conducted a preliminary examination before Dubuque's body was taken out of the water and transported there for an autopsy scheduled today.
   "At this point in time, we do not have a cause of death ..." Henson said, adding that he hopes to receive information from the autopsy this afternoon.
   Henson said investigators are treating the death as a homicide. "We can't definitely say one way or another. We treat all cases as a homicide until we can prove otherwise," he said. "You can't rule anything out at this point."
   According to police, Dubuque was reported missing on Monday by her mother, Brenda Gale Gentry, 220 S. Sycamore St, who told Elizabethton Police Department Sgt. Jack Ramsey that Dubuque had been missing since approximately 10 p.m. Sunday night. "She said she'd been in contact with Dubuque's employer, who she identified as Bob Miller," Ramsey said. "She said that Miller told her that he had dropped Dubuque off at her car, which was parked at the Sunoco on Highway 91, subsequent to her assisting him on a surveillance on Blue Springs Road."
   Dubuque's vehicle is a red 1988 Chevrolet Nova.
   Gentry told Ramsey that her daughter's infant son was in the care of Dubuque's roommates --David Dwayne WIlliamson and Jessica Putnam and that Dubuque often left her son in their care.
   During the investigation Ramsey learned that a vehicle matching the description of the one which Dubuque would have been driving was discovered Monday morning shortly before 8 a.m. and had been reported to the Carter County Sheriff's Department. "The vehicle was found nose-in to the Watauga River at the Hunter Bridge on Broad Street Extension," Ramsey said. "County Deputy Jan Black responded to the scene and found the vehicle was running in gear with the driver's side door closed and the driver's side window down.
   "She told me that the door was closed and that there was no one around the car when she recovered it. She further advised that there were no signs of violence within the vehicle."
   According to Ramsey's report, Dubuque's wallet was found in the glovebox of the vehicle and it contained her social security card but not her driver's license.