Body found floating may be missing woman
CAVE ROCK – A body spotted floating in Lake Tahoe about 6 feet away from a Glenbrook shoreline could be that of a woman missing since January, a Douglas Count sheriff’s lieutenant said.
Lt. Mike Biaggini said DNA testing will be needed to identify the woman who was discovered by a kayaker. The DNA results are expected to arrive in two to four weeks.
Khuteja Banoo Imam, 65, co-owner of the Crystal Range Motel in South Lake Tahoe, was last seen Jan. 12. Her green Honda CRV was found a few days later at Camp Richardson.
Douglas County Detective Sgt. Dan Britton said Sunday the chances are “likely” the body is that of Imam, but the matter is pending.
An autopsy to determine the woman’s cause of death is scheduled for Saturday in Washoe County. Results were not available Sunday.
Asked whether he could ascertain how the woman died, or if there were any signs of foul play, Biaggini said: “We haven’t even had an opportunity to look that close.”
Authorities received a call about the body at 1:15 p.m. Friday. The woman wasn’t wearing clothes but clothes were found nearby, said Biaggini. He declined to describe the clothing.
Decomposition and mummification set in since the body was in the water for what Biaggini guessed was weeks.
“Our suspicion is a non-Caucasian woman,” Biaggini said.
Biaggini said the sheriff’s department is working with South Lake Tahoe police in the investigation.
Police Detective Mark Tappen has been investigating Imam’s disappearance. Over the last two weeks he said he has received bits of information on Imam but nothing solid.
How Imam’s body, if it is determined to be hers, arrived at Glenbrook is a “a very unique situation,” Biaggini said.
Nilofer Beg, a niece of Imam, still hopes for the best.
“I don’t know what to say,” Beg said on Friday. “We’re all still praying that she’s possibly still somewhere, that she didn’t do what seems to be, you know, the situation right now. We’re hoping she wouldn’t take her own life.”
The family was contacted again on Sunday but calls were not returned.
Firefighters from the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District launched a rescue boat off Cave Rock, jumping from the boat to reach the body in shallow waters. When the rescue boat came back to the launch, the body was enclosed in a black bag.
Judee Nummer from Reno was at the boat launch to watch friends fish and enjoy the calm lake during a sunny February day.
“That is sad,” she said. “What a horrible thing.”
– Tribune staff writer Susan Wood contributed to this report.
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