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Body found in Zachary identified as missing 19-year-old, coroner says

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ZACHARY - A body found in a subdivision Wednesday has been identified as Donovan Jones Jr. (DJ), a 19-year-old who went missing from that same neighborhood last month.

The East Baton Rouge Coroner's Office identified the body Thursday afternoon, adding that a cause of death had not yet been determined but that there were no signs of trauma.

"His mother lives down the street. I've just recently become familiar with this area when he went missing, so this is the spot where we canvassed this area, where we looked, where we were pleading for help," explained Rhonda Matthews, who is a family member of DJ. 

Jones was found in the Meadow View area off Old Scenic Highway. Sources told WBRZ two people passing a retention pond at the front of the neighborhood spotted a body in the water and notified authorities. 

Zachary's Assistant Police Chief Darryl Lawrence said Jones could not swim and that the pond where he was found had also been searched with a cadaver dog right after he went missing.

"We actually had a guy with a cadaver dog to try to go down in the pond and got stuck as he was going in, and we had to actually try to help pull him out of the water," Lawrence said.

Lawrence says the body took so long to surface because the pond water was too cold.

The discovery was in the same neighborhood where Jones disappeared from his home in February. Family said he vanished in the middle of the afternoon, taking nothing with him and leaving no sign of why he left.

Police and family have led sprawling searches for Jones since he went missing.

"We concentrated a lot of resources and time in this area, trying to locate him. It's a little disappointing we didn't find him earlier," Lawrence said.

Pastor Derrick Williams, the pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Zachary, told WBRZ moving forward, the family will rely on their faith to get through this.

"We can trust God in all things. God answers every one of our prayers. Are always satisfied with God's answers? No, but we have to trust and truly believe in walk by faith and not by sight," Williams said. "We're going to continue to stand with this family and help them. We're going to stand and help them through this difficult time."

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