Following the discovery of a body at Lake Piru that investigators are “confident” is the body of missing actress Naya Rivera, authorities said that there was “no indiction of foul play and no indication that this was a suicide.”
Sheriff Bill Ayub would not identify the body but said “based on the location where the body was found, physical characteristics of the body, clothing found on the body, and the physical condition of the body, as well as the absence of any other persons reported missing in the area, we are confident the body we found is of Naya Rivera.”
A body was found at Lake Piru early Monday morning, and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department confirmed that it was Rivera’s body to TheWrap on Monday ahead of a 2 p.m. press conference.
The body is currently being taken to the medical examiner’s office in Ventura where an autopsy will be performed and a positive identification will be made through available dental records. The body was found in the northeastern portion of the lake, near the surface of the water, where the water can range from 35-60 feet in depth. The sheriff said that area is full of heavy brush and trees that could reach 15-20 feet in height.
“That was an empty canyon, and that made it very difficult for divers and sonar operators to search that area,” Ayub said, adding that Lake Piru park rangers had found the body that looked like it had been in the water “for several days.”
He also explained that an adult-size life jacket was found on the boat that did indeed have a ladder, and that they suspect a heavy current appeared while Rivera was swimming with her son, and she helped her son get back into the boat but couldn’t get herself back up.
While Lake Piru is mainly used for water recreation, swimming is allowed in the lake.
The actress was reported missing on July 8 after her 4-year-old son, Josey, was found alone on a boat on Lake Piru, the Ventura County Sherriff’s office told TheWrap. Rivera rented the boat at 1 p.m. and her son was later found at 4 p.m. The boy told authorities Rivera had jumped into the water but did not come back up.
Last Thursday, the search and rescue operation shifted to a recovery one, with a Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson saying, “We believe a tragic accident happened and she may have lost her life in the lake.”
In a press conference later in the day on Thursday, Kevin Donoghue, sergeant at the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, said that Naya Rivera’s 4-year-old son, who was found alone on the boat in the middle of the lake, told investigators enough information that made them “conclude that his mother never made it out of the water.”
The recovery of Rivera’s body was hindered by conditions at Lake Piru. On Friday, the sheriff’s office released two videos demonstrating the visibility issues. The first clip showed one of the remotely operated underwater vehicles being used to locate signs of Rivera, a floating drone with cameras on it, connected to a boat via a cable, which according to the department is being used in addition to “side scan sonar, dogs and divers.”
The second clip demonstrated how the drones are operated via a handheld controller connected to a computer, with footage displayed on an attached screen. As the drone footage showed, at a depth of 30 feet, the lake is extremely muddy and objects can only be identified with clarity very close to the camera.
Following her run on “Glee,” Rivera appeared on the show “Devious Maids” and most recently starred in the YouTube series “Step Up: High Water.”