Body found in California was that of Kerala woman

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Search and rescue teams in Northern California discovered the body of a woman Friday morning in the area where a Valencia family's vehicle was seen plunging into the rain-swollen Eel River a week ago, according to Mendocino County officials.

Four members of the Thottapilly family, including a man and wife and two children, went missing this month while traveling from Portland, Oregon, to their home in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita.

A search team found the body about 7 miles south of where the family's SUV Mendocino County Sheriff Thomas Allman told a news conference in the community of Leggett.

Authorities in the United States have reportedly confirmed that the woman's body found from the Eel River was that of Keralite Soumya Thottapilly, who along with her husband and two children went missing earlier this month.

They were expected at a family member's home in San Jose on April 6.

There had been reports of abuse in the past, and neighbor Bruce DeKalb says he heard firsthand from the children allegations that the mothers were withholding food and mistreating the children, who the Harts adopted in Texas.

Washington state authorities began investigating the Harts for possible child neglect a few days before the five bodies were recovered.

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The sheriff's office released a statement Thursday saying that along with various personal items found that were consistent with a family traveling on vacation, there were several items positively identified by relatives as belonging to the Thottapilly family.

The family members were identified as Sandeep Thottapilly, 41; Soumya Thottapilly, 38; Siddhant Thottapilly, 12; and Saachi Thottapilly, 9. The search teams were able to cover approximately 12 miles of river bank by foot and 60 miles by helicopter.

Sheriff deputies and the California Highway Patrol have been working since last week to locate and recover the vehicle.

The California Highway Patrol developed information that the family were travelling in a family vehicle, a 2016 maroon Honda Pilot.

And authorities have said social services officials in OR contacted the West Linn Police Department about the family in 2013 while they were living in the area.

Sandeep, originally from Kerala, grew up in Surat city in Gujarat and settled down in the USA over 15 years ago.

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