Update: No foul play suspected in death of Toni Anderson in Missouri River, police say

The body found in a submerged car in the Missouri River was that of missing Toni Anderson.

Kansas City police on Monday said detectives were working to get a positive identification of the body found, but Anderson’s mother has said the body belonged to her daughter.

“I can’t confirm anything that has been told to the family of Toni Anderson, but I can say that at this point we don’t have any evidence that suggests foul play,” said Capt. Stacey Graves, a spokeswoman for Kansas City police.

“It’s still an ongoing investigation that detectives are working on so I won’t be able to speak any further about that.”

Her mother, Liz Anderson of Wichita, told The Star on Sunday that police had confirmed the identity. Police have not officially released that information, pending a medical examiner’s report.

Toni Anderson, 20, had been missing since Jan. 15. Her car was pulled from the river Friday evening at Platte Landing Park near Parkville.

Liz Anderson said the body was identified from clothing Toni Anderson was last seen wearing.

“There was no foul play, “Anderson said. “I’m so grateful for that.”

Liz Anderson said the most likely explanation is that her daughter became confused in the early morning and ended up at the boat ramp in the park. She had been upset after being stopped by a North Kansas City police officer for a minor traffic violation.

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“She got freaked out,” Toni’s mother said. “She got lost and she got confused, or whatever. It was still dark. She was on the boat ramp and tried to back out. The ramp was icy and she slid into the river.”

The window of the 2012 Ford Focus was open and Toni Anderson’s seatbelt was off when the vehicle was recovered.

“She was fully clothed,” Liz Anderson said. “It must have happened so quick. It was so cold. She must have instantly gone into shock. I can see how it could happen.”

Toni Anderson had been on the swim team in school and was an excellent swimmer, her mother said.

Toni Anderson had left her job around 4 a.m. and was on her way to meet friends at a location near downtown. Soon after she left her job, Toni Anderson was stopped by police on Missouri 9 for an improper lane change. She told the officer she was almost out of gasoline, and the officer directed her to a QuikTrip at 26th and Burlington streets.

Liz Anderson said she supposes the officer was alert to possible drunken drivers at that time of the morning. She said her daughter had had three speeding tickets but did not drink alcohol.

Liz Anderson said her daughter’s body showed no signs of trauma other than a bruised knee, which she surmised came from brushing against and knocking off a GPS device mounted below the dashboard.

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Toni Anderson’s body will be cremated after the autopsy is complete. A celebration of life service will held at a date to be announced at Risen Saviour Lutheran Church in Wichita.

“Unfortunately this is not the outcome we wanted,” Liz Anderson said. “The police have been amazing to us. We are so grateful for the help, love and support from the Kansas City community.”

Members of the Kansas City Police Department’s missing persons unit who had worked the case were relieved and thankful that Toni Anderson’s car had been found and that they were making progress in the case.

“They were in constant contact with the family, so they went through this with the family,” Graves said. “When we are in these type of investigations, you know there are some emotions involved. We want to find missing people. We want to solve cases.”

Finding her vehicle was a big step, but Graves said the investigation still goes on.

“It still maybe poses more questions, but at least her vehicle has been located,” she said.

Matt Campbell: 816-234-4902, @MattCampbellKC

Robert A. Cronkleton: 816-234-4261, @cronkb