Was Kori Gauthier murdered? Missing LSU teen's body found in Mississippi River after she 'argued with boyfriend'

Was Kori Gauthier murdered? Missing LSU teen's body found in Mississippi River after she 'argued with boyfriend'
Kori Gauthier's body has been found in the Mississippi River (Instagram/Kori Gauthier)

Kori Gauthier, the 19-year-old student of Louisiana State University who went missing on April 7, 2021, has been found dead after about a week. A body found in the Mississippi River in the St John the Baptist Parish, was confirmed by officials on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, to be Kori's.

After days of frantic search, her body was spotted by a tugboat crewmember in the middle of the river near Milepost 137 in Reserve. While an autopsy confirmed her identity, the cause of her death is still undetermined. However, in a statement issued last weekend, LSU officials asserted that there was no criminal activity or foul play involved, which they reiterated in the latest statement issued after identifying her body.

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How did Kori Gauthier die?

Kori, an education major at LSU who hailed from Opelousas, was reported missing last week, after she failed to turn up from class, work and a doctor's appointment. Her family stated that her boyfriend was the last person to see her alive after they reportedly 'got into an argument'. "I saw her on Monday - we hung out and she was happy," said Sydni, an LSU freshman who lived across the hall from Kori at university, reported The Sun.

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Later, her empty car was discovered in a totaled condition on the Interstate 10 Mississippi River Bridge. Her family tracked her cellphone and found her car in a Baton Rouge salvage yard, where it was kept after being towed by the police from the crash site, according to The Advocate. It was ascertained that someone had crashed into her vehicle earlier in the same morning she went missing. Her phone and wallet were found inside the vehicle. Despite the official statement, many feel that the cause of death remains a mystery.

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Ever since then, an elaborate search was launched to find her as local law enforcement agencies and local community members volunteered in the search. Boats and police dogs were deployed in addition to mounted patrols, citizen volunteers, drones, and helicopters. 

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On Saturday evening, April 10, LSU released an update on the search stating, "a K9 cadaver dog with Mercy Search & Rescue alerted twice in the same area on the river, which is 85-90 feet deep with conditions that were unsafe to deploy divers."

In the same statement, they added, "At this time, based on evidence collected during the investigation thus far, law enforcement officials suspect that no criminal activity or foul play took place." The conclusion was restated by LSU police officials in the latest media statement released on Wednesday, April 14, evening. They added that they have used cell phone tracking, video footage, and other undisclosed evidence shared with Gauthier's parents, to figure out a timeline leading to her death. "....we have concluded that there was no criminal activity or foul play involved," the statement mentioned. 

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Family and community mourn Kori Gauthier's death

Initially, Kori's family had issued a reward of $10,000 to anyone who found and brought her back home. "I’ve checked every hospital, jail, coroner's office you name it. No sign of her. I’ll personally pay $10K to anyone that leads her home. I need my niece!!!!," her uncle Spencer Gauthier had posted on Facebook. Her family and friends were hopeful for her safe return until the confirmation of her death on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. 

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"Since Kori was first reported missing, the LSU Police Department, Baton Rouge Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies and volunteers have taken exhaustive measures to locate her and, in the process, to determine what led to her disappearance. This is a difficult conclusion for all of us, but we hope this will bring closure for the Gauthier family," LSU Police Chief Bart Thompson stated. 

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 A candlelight prayer vigil was organized in her honor at the Downtown Baton Rouge Galvez Plaza, which was attended by over 200 people, according to The Advocate. Kori's disappearance and death shocked the Baton Rouge community where she grew up and attended high school, as well as taught dance classes. 

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Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said, "Our entire community is heartbroken by the loss of this amazing young woman, I send my most heartfelt condolences to Kori's family and loved ones. Please keep them in your prayers during this time."

Who was Kori Gauthier's boyfriend?

"Kori's family said her boyfriend is the last person to see her before they got into an argument. Kori was headed back to her dorm on LSU's campus," mentioned a flyer released by her family for aiding the search for her. 

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While the identity of her boyfriend is still unknown, a report by Heightzone mentioned Tyler Toussant as the rumored boyfriend of Kori Gauthier. The report adds that though Tyler's name has emerged during the investigation, it is still unclear whether he was actually Kori Gauthier's real boyfriend. His age is speculated to be between 20 to 25 years. Not many details have been revealed about Tyler. 

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However, Kori Gauthier's sister reportedly urged everyone to stop blaming her boyfriend for her disappearance. "STOP attacking her boyfriend. He has been in her life for a long time now. The way y’all are attacking him is sick. He is hurting just as much as us. He’s her family too. repost the posts and pass out a flyer and let the police do their job,” she reportedly requested.

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