MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – A Miami Norland Senior High School teacher who had been reported missing is dead, a Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokeswoman said.
Kameela Russell was last seen alive by her family May 15 in Miami Gardens.
Police said a decomposed body was found in a canal Saturday afternoon near Northwest 207th Street and Northwest 15th Avenue.
The body was pulled from a canal just a few blocks from where Russell disappeared.
Darren J. Caprara, director of operations for the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department, told Local 10 News in an email that it was Russell's body found in the canal. The manner of death was ruled a homicide caused by blunt head injury.
"She was a great person," student Shannah Moore said. "She had a nice personality and with the kids she was good."
Miami Gardens Police Chief Delma Noel-Pratt was seen visiting the home where Russell was last seen, consoling family members. She told Local 10's Ian Margol the family was not yet ready to discuss the case publicly.
"We're just hanging in there, as expected," a family friend said.
Police swarmed a house down the street from the family's home last week, bringing in K9 units and drones, but there is still no official word on whether the two incidents are connected.
Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, a spokeswoman for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, released a statement Wednesday saying the district was "deeply saddened about the painful and shocking news involving the passing of a Miami Norland Senior High School teacher."
"School district staff and Miami-Dade schools police will continue to work with the Miami Gardens Police Department, which has been handling this case since the employee's disappearance from her home," the statement continued.
Gonzalez-Diego said grief counselors will available to students and staff members at the school.
"We ask that the community join us as we keep Kameela Russell's loved ones in our prayers," she said.
Students who spoke to Local 10 News reporter Liane Morejon Wednesday said they remembered Russell as a friendly teacher.
"She was a wonderful teacher," student Zeniah Rolle said. "She always liked to smile and she always put positive energy in people's lives."
"She was a very nice lady. She was so giving and she was always nice to her students," student Mormare Jones said. "She was a fun person to be around. I love Ms. Russell."