Najah Ferrell left for an early morning shift at a Panera Bread on the northwest side of Indianapolis. After never making it to work her car was found in a shopping center less than a mile away. A month later, fisherman near Crown Point, Indiana, found her severed foot.
Najah was the cornerstone of her family. She was in a long-term relationship and engaged to be married, but no date had been set. She enjoyed spending time with her children as well as her nieces and nephews, and always had a group of kids with her—she was happiest when spending time with them. It came as no surprise to her family when she decided to become a foster parent to three additional children to her two sons; because she wanted to “give back” and be there for children who didn’t have anyone else.
Najah had been a stay-at-home mom for a when her children were young, but had recently taken a new job at Panera Bread, which would offer her a bit of income and a schedule that worked around the kids’ school schedules. Her new job required her to be there at 5 am, and on the day she went missing, it would have been her third day of orientation, but she never made it there.
Najah was last seen at her home near County Road 100 South and Dan Jones Road in Avon, Indiana, during the early hours of March 15, 2019. Ferrell never showed up to the Panera Bread on West 86th Street near I-465 and Zionsville Road on Indianapolis’ northwest side, but it wasn’t until she didn’t show up to pick her sons up from school that her mom, Paula, was notified of her absence.
The search for Najah was extensive and included aerial and ground searches across the city, but to no avail. Nearly two weeks later, her 2018 Nissan Altima was discovered in a shopping center parking near her work. Shortly after that, construction workers contacted police after they found some random papers and personal items near I-465 and Lafayette Road in Indianapolis. While the media never reported what items were found, Najah’s sister, Jaleesa disclosed that it was ID and bank cards belonging to her sister.
Then in April 2019, police got a call from the Crown Point Police Department in Indiana—about two hours away. Two fishermen at a pond off I-65 and 109th Avenue had discovered human remains. A severed foot was pulled from the pond with a tattoo matching Najah’s—her name. No other remains were found. After confirming the body part belonged to Najah through DNA testing, authorities launched a thorough search of the pond and surrounding areas but did not find any additional clues. Since the last discovery of her remains, there has not been any new information or breakthroughs in Najah’s case. And no other remains have ever been discovered.
Where the case stands today
Najah’s case remains unsolved, with many linger questions. Why was her car found in that shopping center? Was she on her way to work and abducted in a parking lot? Did she go willingly? Why were her remains disposed of near major interstates? Does Najah’s assailant frequent the area? Did she know her assailant?
Her family continues to celebrate her life every year on her birthday, but no other leads have ever surfaced in her case. If anyone has any information related to Najah’s case please contact Crimestoppers 317-262-8477(TIPS) or the Hendricks County Communications center at (317) 839-8700.