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Cottonwood Police Chief: Family identifies 16-year-old Faith Moore’s body as search comes to end

Cottonwood Police Chief Steve Gesell announces to the media that 16-year-old Faith Moore's body was found by search and rescue crews along the banks of the Verde River on Wednesday, July 28, 2021. (VVN video screenshot)

Cottonwood Police Chief Steve Gesell announces to the media that 16-year-old Faith Moore's body was found by search and rescue crews along the banks of the Verde River on Wednesday, July 28, 2021. (VVN video screenshot)

COTTONWOOD — The search for 16-year-old Faith Moore came to an end Wednesday night, July 28, as search and rescue crews found her body where the Verde River meets the wash where the teenager was last seen.

Speaking to a community gripped by the search for Moore, who called for help just days ago because her car was stranded in knee-high water because of a storm, Cottonwood Police Chief Steve Gesell announced that the family had positively identified the body.

"I’m here to announce tonight, certainly light years from the miracle that we were hoping for of finding Faith alive and well, we have recovered her body along the banks of the Verde River about three hours ago,” Gesell said during a press conference around 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 28.

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Faith Moore. (Courtesy photo)

On Saturday, July 24, first responders were able to make visual contact with Moore, who called 911 at approximately 9:30 p.m., but during the rescue attempt in a wash on Camino Real near Highway 260, she was swept out of her car and downstream.

Although the water was only at knee-high levels when she first called, the water quickly rose to more than 8 feet within an hour, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office earlier this week.

Hundreds of volunteers, first responders from the Verde Valley and other parts of the state, K9 units, and even a National Guard Blackhawk helicopter, spent four days searching for Moore.

Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes told The Verde Independent on Wednesday that at one point, there were nearly 500 first responders involved in the operation.

On Monday night, July 26, community leaders and pastors led hundreds of community members in prayer at Mingus Union High School’s softball field where Moore’s mother told the crowd, “Thank you to each and every one of you for being here, for praying. For helping find our girl.”

By Tuesday, first responders, along with many volunteers, were up at 6 a.m. to begin the search again for Moore. The same on Wednesday morning, until around 4 p.m. when her body was found.

After his initial comments, Gesell went on to say how in “awe” he was of the local community and all it had done to try and find the local high school student.

“I’m completely in awe of this community. The word community is often, I think it’s almost cliché, in some instances these days. I can tell you for a fact that community is alive and well in Cottonwood. Community is alive and well in the Verde Valley. Community is alive and well in Yavapai County,” Gesell said.

Brian M. Bergner Jr. is editor of the Verde Independent, a sister publication to The Daily Courier.

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