The search for a Loranger woman missing since 2009 ended Monday when remains found less than 400 yards from her home were positively identified, authorities said Tuesday.
But the search for answers in the death of Dena Fout continues, as detectives try to piece together what happened the day the 41-year-old mother disappeared and why reports of her whereabouts continued to surface even in the weeks prior to the discovery of her remains.
Detectives have identified “several persons of interest” but no named suspect in the case, Tangipahoa Parish sheriff’s spokeswoman Dawn Panepinto said Tuesday.
The cause of Fout’s death is unknown and foul play has not been determined or ruled out, Panepinto said.
Search crews continue to scour a wooded area near Loranger Road in northeast Loranger after a group of boys found a skull while frog-hunting on May 21, Panepinto said.
The partial remains were found in a ditch about 380 yards from Fout’s residence on St. Charles Avenue, Panepinto said.
Fout was last seen outside her home around 6 p.m. Aug. 3, 2009, when she stepped out for a cigarette, Tangipahoa Parish sheriff’s Capt. Don Alexander told The (Hammond) Daily Star at the time.
Thirty minutes later, Fout’s children and boyfriend looked outside and Fout was gone, Alexander had said.
A neighbor’s child told investigators Fout was walking toward a nearby pond around 6:30 p.m., but a search of the pond uncovered no clues.
Fout’s sister, Kelly Winget, filed a missing person report with the Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 4 when she learned of her sister’s disappearance.
Detectives interviewed relatives, friends and neighbors and conducted air and ground searches, all to no avail.
Over the next nearly five years, numerous tips came in, many alleging Fout was still alive, Panepinto said.
“Even the week prior to discovering it was Dena, we still had detectives following leads,” Panepinto said. “But they were never able to verify her whereabouts.”
Panepinto said the case has become personal to the detectives.
“They work so closely with the families and want closure just as much as the family members do,” Panepinto said.
Anyone with information about the incident should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 554-5245.