Body Found in Vehicle Driven by Missing Orlando Mom Stephanie Hollingsworth Recovered in Pond, Police Say

Missing Person: Stephanie Hollingsworth
Scott Hollingsworth

Police searching for missing Florida mom Stephanie Hollingsworth have recovered the vehicle she was believed to be driving, along with a body inside. The Orlando police said they discovered Hollingsworth's Chevy Tahoe in a retention pond near Dowden Road and Story Time Drive in the Innovation Way area.

The body discovered in the car has not been confirmed to be Hollingsworth, the Orlando Police Department and the 9th District Medical Examiner's office told Inside Edition Digital. 

According to police, searchers working in conjunction with the missing woman’s family were flying a drone on Saturday when they discovered the vehicle. A dive team with the Orlando Fire Department confirmed a deceased individual was inside the vehicle.

The investigation is active and ongoing. 

Hollingsworth, 50, of Orlando, Florida was last seen on Sept. 25 at the Bank of America withdrawing $20 from the ATM.

According to Belle Island police, surveillance video showed Hollingsworth at a Walmart on Golden Rod Road, where they say she had bought a bottle of vodka. Driving a 2000 silver-colored Tahoe, Hollingsworth went Northbound after leaving the Walmart, police said. And that was the last time she was seen. 

Scott Hollingsworth, 50, described his wife of 25 years as a loving wife and devoted mother to their three teenage sons, ages 15, 17 and 21, who stayed at home for the last 15 years to raise them.

He told Inside Edition Digital earlier this month their two youngest were in school the day she disappeared but said their oldest son was home from college and taking classes remotely. The family didn't have any special plans that day, and he and his son hadn't realized exactly when she left the house, but believe it may have been around 1-1:30 p.m., he said. He said she had her purse and wallet but had left her cell phone behind. 

"It wasn't unlike her to be running around leaving her phone behind," he said.

Hollingsworth pointed out that it was uncharacteristic for his wife to be away for such a long period of time without any contact with anyone.

“Stephanie had never gone away. She was home every night. She would never want to be away from her family; that is why I feel something happened beyond her control at a vulnerable moment. I feel she is in danger,” he said. 

Stephanie had been very active in the women’s ministry and many of the young girls looked up to her, Hollingsworth said, describing her as a person with “all heart” that people were just drawn to.

"Stephanie had an amazing glow about her," he said. "Everyone was magnetized by her. She was always so positive and gave everything she had to everyone."

Hollingsworth shared that Stephanie had battled alcohol addiction most of her life, and over the last few months, her drinking seemed to escalate.

“Stephanie has had a lifetime dealing with anxieties and depression, just dealing with life and using alcohol as a way to escape. She gave everything she had to everyone, but she had internal battles that were real,” he said. 

“I want to make this public and make people understand that it is so hard to get people to talk about this since many feel it is taboo.”

Hollingsworth, along with family, friends, and some help from volunteers, searched day and night to find Stephanie. The parking lot of the Walmart on Golden Rod Road, where she was last seen, had been transformed into a command center. Local agencies, aviation units, and civilian drone pilots searched wooded areas and bodies of water during the search. 

"She always carried so much guilt and shame about this but everyday when she woke up, it was a new start and I never carried anything into the next day," he said.

He said that Stephanie recently became certified to be a yoga instructor and she was looking forward to her new venture and starting on a new path of healing. 

“She was really excited about getting back into working and doing what she loved,” said Hollingsworth, who works as a general contractor. “She was very excited about that.” 

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