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Pond drained in search for body

Law enforcement officials aren’t saying who they were looking for Wednesday when they drained a small pond off Viola Road.

The all-day operation was conducted near the mostly vacant trailer park about one mile from McMinnville city limits. A trench was dug to divert water so law enforcement could determine if a body was at the bottom.

“We did not find what we were looking for,” said District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis. “It’s an ongoing investigation so I can’t say who we were looking for. All I can tell you is we didn’t find it.”

When asked, Zavogiannis declined to say if investigators were looking for Ramona Priest, who has been missing for more than 20 years. A $10,000 reward has been offered from the state of Tennessee for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Priest’s disappearance. It is believed she was murdered.

Priest was 19 when she was last seen Feb. 9, 2001 outside an establishment where local bands would meet to play music and was referred to as “The Underground” located on the back side of McMinnville Plaza Shopping Center.

Investigators were reportedly acting on a tip Wednesday when they drained the pond off Viola Road.

The $10,000 reward will be paid upon the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Priest’s disappearance and presumed murder. Anyone with information can call McMinnville Police at 473-3386 or the District Attorney’s Office at 474-0622.