VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) – It was not the outcome anyone wanted, especially Christian Rieker who spent the last two weeks in a panic after he says he woke up on Sept. 30, and his wife, Tracey, was missing from their Venice home.
It was 6 a.m., and she was gone.
Tracey was nowhere to be found leaving behind her wallet and cell phone at home, but the family SUV was missing and, so was she.
The search for the missing mother-of-four lasted eleven long days. Then, over the weekend, a discovery was made in a large pond located inside the Toscana Isles subdivision in Venice.
Investigators with the Venice Police Department made the heartbreaking announcement on Saturday. Tracey’s body was discovered in the family SUV, a green Nissan Xterra, which was pulled from the bottom of a pond, less than a mile from her home.
Tracey’s husband, Christian, spoke with News Channel 8 in the early stages of the search. He was desperate for answers and worried sick, making a public plea that he was hoping she’d possibly hear.
“Tracey, honey, we need you, we love you. You’re so missed. Wherever you are, I pray you’re safe, wherever you are, we just want you back,” Rieker said.
“The outreach has been so powerful, there’s literally been hundreds of people who have reached out to help, literally trying to do everything they can to parks and beaches,” the husband explained. “We just want to know she’s safe.”
The events leading up to Tracey’s death remain a mystery at this point. No one knows what really happened, and investigators are currently working on a timeline.
Neighbors in the subdivision where Tracey lived, and subsequently died, feel heartbroken for her family.
“I was just, just praying for the kids. I was hoping, hoping they’d find her,” Neighbor Dan Berwitz said
Berwitz, along with other homeowners, were very concerned about their missing neighbor.
“We’re all praying for her family at the end of the day,” said Berwitz.
Tracey’s husband says his wife had been visiting beaches recently to talk with people about God, specifically spots like Bradenton Beach and Lido Beach.
The 44-year-old mom was a “nature girl,” according to her husband. She loved hiking, exploring trails in the area and visiting local nature preserves.
But, Tracey had changed in recent months, according to her husband Tracey says she was in a manic state prior to her disappearance and was struggling with mental illness during this pandemic.
Christian explained that in a matter of months, his wife had gone from being terrified of contracting COVID-19 to suddenly talking with everyone she could, including strangers, about God and the end of the world.
“We are concerned about the mindset she was in. She didn’t get a whole lot of sleep a couple of days prior to that. She wasn’t eating a lot,” Christian told News Channel 8 during the search for his wife.
On Saturday, Tracey’s body was pulled from a pond near the family’s home, less than a mile away.
An autopsy was performed on Monday, according to Venice police, to determine a cause of death. No results have been released and a toxicology report is also pending.
“I feel bad for her kids,” said Dan. “I really do.”