Ten days after she was reported missing by her aunt on May 15, Miami mother and school official Kameela Russell was found dead in a Florida canal.
According to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Russell, 41, died of a blunt force head injury and her death was ruled a homicide, reported local ABC affiliate WPLG.
A 16-year-old boy in Miami Gardens found her body Saturday May 25. She was wearing the same gray leggings she had on the day she went missing.
Online records confirm her date of death is listed as May 25.
Russell was a mother of two and a testing coordinator at Miami Norland Senior High School, where students and faculty are mourning her loss.
In a statement to CBS Miami, MNSHS officials said they were “deeply saddened” by the “painful and shocking news.”
“All available counseling resources will be deployed to the school immediately to assist students and staff during this extremely difficult time. 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 read. “The entire M-DCPS family is heartbroken. We ask that the community join us as we keep Kameela Russell’s loved ones in our prayers.”
In a tweet, school superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said they are deploying a crisis management team to students and staff in the district.
“An unbearably painful week for @MDCPS. We ache for Kameela Russell’s grieving loved ones and pray they find the strength to bear the pain of this heartbreaking loss. District Crisis team has been deployed to @MiamiNorlandSHS to help students and staff during this difficult time,” he tweeted.
Russell was last seen by her aunt Donna Blyden, who was watching Russell’s daughters the day she disappeared. According to Blyden, Russell’s car pulled into her driveway to pick up her girls, but she never made it inside.
When Blyden looked back outside, Russell was gone.
“I have been taking care of her since she was a baby,” Blyden told CBS Miami a few days after Russell’s disappearance. “She knows the bond we have. It’s unusual for Kameela not to get her children when it’s time to get them. I keep praying that Kameela comes back to us.”
The canal where Russell’s body was found is located less than a mile away from Blyden’s house.
Although police have not named any suspects in the case, detectives searched the home of Russell’s former colleague who lives in Miami Gardens, reported the Miami Herald.
However, Russell’s mother, Linda, told the Herald she’s known the former colleague since he was a child, because he grew up with Russell, and she does not consider him a suspect.
“That would surprise me because I’ve never seen anything that would warrant all of that,” she told the Herald.
Linda also revealed that her daughter booked tickets for a weekend trip with her daughters and niece for the day after she disappeared.
“For her to disappear when she’s already made all these plans to have a relaxing weekend, it just doesn’t make sense,” Linda Russell told the news outlet.
Linda and Kameela moved from the Bahamas to Boston so Linda Russell could finish her bachelor of science in nursing.
Kameela attended Norland Middle and was accepted into the music magnet program at Northwestern High, where she played violin. She performed at Carnegie Hall with the South Florida Youth Symphony as a freshman. She transferred as an upperclassman to the School for Advanced Studies at Miami Dade College’s North Campus and graduated in 1995.
Russell went on to Florida State University where she graduated in two years.
In 2014, she started working in the Miami-Dade County School District teaching at Walter C. Young Middle School. After earning her master’s degree, she transferred to Norland Senior to serve as the testing coordinator.