Columbus police are continuing an investigation into the death of a 33-year-old Indianapolis woman whose body was found on a sandbar in the Flat Rock River.

The Bartholomew County Coroner’s office removed the body of Jacqueline (Kleine) Watts, 33, from the sandbar Saturday morning after it was found during a ground search that began at daybreak.

At a 10 a.m. news conference Saturday, Columbus Police Lt. Matt Harris said investigators do not have details about the circumstances of Watts’ death.

“Right now we have many more questions than we have answers,” Harris said.

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Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting said an autopsy has been tentatively scheduled for Monday. Additional information will be released after the autopsy is completed, he said.

Watts, a Columbus native who graduated from Columbus East High School in 2002 and was known to many as Jackie, was reported missing about 5 p.m. Friday after her car was found running, with its emergency flashers activated, in the 2300 block of Riverside Drive, police said. The area is near 25th and Washington streets in Columbus.

Her family members reported on social media that Watts’ cellphone and purse were found in the car, and a passenger side door was found open, although Harris declined to confirm those details, saying the circumstances surrounding the vehicle are under investigation.

Police used helicopters from LifeLine and the Louisville Metro Police Department and tracking dogs to try to locate Watts on Friday night, but did not find her, Harris said. Boats were also launched on the Flat Rock River Friday night as part of the search, he said.

A ground search resumed at daybreak Saturday, and Watts was found about 8:30 a.m. during that search, Harris said.

The location along the Flat Rock River, near Noblitt Park, is about a half mile from where Watts’ car was found Friday night on Riverside Drive.

The area is residential with the park and homes backing up to the Flat Rock River, Harris said. The river is not “terribly high” now, resulting in the sandbars being visible to searchers, he said.

Jenn Watts Barrie, Watt’s sister-in-law, posted on social media that Jacqueline and her husband Michael were planning to fly to Washington D.C. Friday night for a visit but Jacqueline did not return to Indianapolis to meet her husband and go to the airport.

Barrie said on social media that Watts dropped the family’s dogs off with her mother-in-law and a rabbit at her parents’ house in Columbus, but no one saw her after that.

Harris said he did not have details about whether the pets had actually been dropped off before Watts disappeared.

How to help

The Columbus Police Department is asking anyone who may have seen Watts or her vehicle in the area to contact them at 812-376-2600.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.