Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Body of NY college student discovered

Published: April 5, 2012
Section: News

Arizona police discovered the body of missing Elmira College student Jessica Ronhock last Saturday in an SUV at the bottom of a cliff 25 miles south of Flagstaff, Ariz. Her body was found inside a white Jeep Cherokee. A couple of elk hunters came across the SUV. Ronhock’s body had been decomposing for several months.

The 21-year-old nursing student went missing from the upstate New York college on Jan. 10. The last person to see Ronhock was her roommate, who said she found a note claiming that Ronhock went home because of a “family emergency.”

According to Ronhock’s parents, there was no emergency and she never returned to their home in Mashpee, Mass.

Credit card records show that during her disappearance she traveled through areas of Florida, Texas and Arizona before her death. There is security footage that displays Ronhock alone and withdrawing cash from an ATM machine in Baytown, Texas, on Jan. 15.

She was not reported missing until Jan. 19, when she was thought to be traveling through Arizona.

There is evidence that Ronhock was at a campground in Florida immediately before her disappearance. Purchases on her credit card show that she was also traveling in both southern and northern areas of Arizona. From an inn’s video footage, a woman who appears to be Ronhock is making reservations for two people at the hotel.

The last contact with Ronhock came on Jan. 22 when her private journal was mailed to Ronhock’s family from Williams, Ariz., just west of Flagstaff and 60 miles south of the Grand Canyon.

The entries in the journal were said to be “of a disheartening nature.” Arizona police, however, do not think that this was suicidal behavior and claim that her death was more likely to be merely a “traffic accident.”

The Elmira City Police agree that Ronhock did not display suicidal behavior. One Elmira City sergeant stated that most suicidal people would not put in the effort to travel across the country in the way Ronhock did. He thinks it more likely that she “went out there to clear her head and gather herself and something’s happened since then.”

The SUV had crashed through the guardrail and plummeted about 200 yards below, probably causing immediate death.

According to local reports, the body was brought to the Coconino Medical Examiner to make the final identification.