TOMS RIVER — A missing 79-year-old woman was found dead Saturday in her Holiday City senior community, authorities said.

Search crews found the body of Martha Hesse about 10:45 a.m. in a wooded area of Holiday City, according to a statement from the Police Department on its Facebook page.

“At this time, there is no reason to believe that foul play was involved,” the statement read.

Police said an autopsy will be completed to determine the cause of death.

Hesse’s husband alerted police about 6 p.m. Thursday that she drove from their Mount Fairweather Lane home to an unknown location earlier in the day but never returned, police said.

Hesse’s car was located a little after 6 p.m. near the community lake. Her purse, wallet, cash, credit cards and cellphone were in the car.

Police had said they had “reason to believe” the woman was distraught or in need of assistance.

Previous efforts to locate Hesse involved a flat-bottom boat with underwater sonar, a State Police helicopter with thermal technology and 40 volunteers from police, fire and EMS agencies, the statement said.

Toms River investigators Friday followed up on tips and potential sightings.

Police Detective Randy Petrick is leading the investigation, which involves the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Sheriff’s Department and Medical Examiner’s offices.

Police ask anyone who saw or interacted with Hesse on Thursday or Friday to call Petrick at 732-349-1050, ext. 1235, or email

Never miss breaking news as it happens! Sign up now to receive alerts delivered to your inbox.

Contact: 609-272-7239 Twitter @ACPressSerpico

Covering breaking news for The Press of Atlantic City since September 2016. Graduate of the University of Maryland, Central Jersey native.

Recommended for you

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.