For Immediate Release
July 21, 2014
Sheriff Jimmy Harris states as follows:
Sheriff Jimmy Harris reports the investigation into a missing female from the Valley Head area is focused now in Cherokee County as personal items belonging to the victim were discovered in Leesburg. DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office deputies took a missing person report July 16th for Sarah Jane Ortiz, 20 of Valley Head. Ms. Ortiz was reported missing by friends and family after she failed to return home July 14th. Investigators interviewed people in Leesburg July 17th and 18th in an effort to locate Ms. Ortiz. Late Friday afternoon, a fisherman discovered a body in Weiss Lake near Yellow Creek Church in Leesburg. The body was that of a female and appeared to have been in the water for some time. Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, Leesburg Police Department, Cherokee County Rescue Squad and the Center for Applied Forensics all responded to the scene and the body was recovered and sent to Alabama Department of Forensic Science in Huntsville for autopsy. Investigators from DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office were present when the body was recovered and provided information to the officials to assist in identifying the body. The body of Sarah Ortiz was positively identified Monday by forensics in Huntsville. The cause of death has not been released at this time. The investigation is continuing into the circumstances of her timeline from when she left Hammondville until she was last seen in Leesburg late Sunday or early Monday morning. Anyone with information about this case should call the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office at 256-845-3801 and speak with Investigator Craig White or Commander Wade Hill.