Jessica Ntahoturi, late U of O student, was described as having excelled academically, athletically, and having a deep faith. Photo: Courtesy of Emilie Carrey.
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Science student Jessica Ntahoturi mourned by family and student community

The Ottawa Police Service confirmed on Sept. 8 that the body of a woman found in the Ottawa River was that of 20-year-old Jessica Ntahoturi, a third-year bachelor of science student at the University of Ottawa.

Police became involved after a lifeless body washed up on the shore of the Ottawa River near Lady Grey Drive by the Royal Canadian Mint on Sept. 4. They were called to the scene around 7:15 p.m. after a person fishing found the body “partially submerged” in the water.

Ntahoturi had gone missing several days earlier, having been last seen on Sweetland Avenue on Aug. 30 at 2 p.m. Following her disappearance, Ottawa police and several news agencies in Ottawa and Sudbury issued reports that she was missing.

In an interview with the Sudbury Star, Const. Chuck Benoit of the Ottawa police said the results of the autopsy, which took place following the discovery of the body, were not made available to the public until later in the week, so as not to “compromise the integrity of the investigation.”

Police have since confirmed that no foul play is suspected in Ntahoturi’s death.

In the meantime, Ntahoturi’s family and friends posted on social media to mourn her death, suggesting that they had connected her disappearance with the body found in the Ottawa River.

Rachel Faber, a third-year nursing student at the U of O posted on Facebook about Ntahoturi’s death, saying “I can’t believe such a beautiful spirit was taken from us. Jess, you were so funny, kind, beautiful. I’ll never understand why God only gave you 20 years on this earth, but thank you for sharing some of them with me.”

Faber also spoke to the Fulcrum about her friendship with Ntahoturi.

“I met Jess in first year through residence. She was one of a few people I met who were interested in going to church in Ottawa. We went together a few times and kept in contact as friends.”

Like many of Ntahoturi’s family and friends on social media, Faber had only positive things to say about the late U of O science student.

“What I knew of her was kind, funny, and always willing to lend you a smile. I can’t believe that I’ll never run into Jess in the library again, or go to church with her, or see her smile.”

Ntahoturi was known to be very active in her church community in Sudbury, reflecting Faber’s comments about her faith.

According to the Sudbury Star, Ntahoturi had received a $1,000 bursary from her church last November, and a celebration in the church was also held in honour of her accomplishments. She was also described in the same article as being someone who “excelled both athletically and academically.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Ntahoturi’s family with the cost of the memorial service. As of the date of this publication, over $3,500 has been raised. Friends and family are encouraging others to donate to help support the costs after the unexpected tragedy.