Vernon Hills Police Chief Patrick Kreis provides new details at a press conference in the missing persons case of Brissa Romero, 17, of Carpentersville, (inset) whose car was located in a pond in Vernon Hills Monday afternoon. | Background Photo: Woo-Sung Shim / Lake and McHenry County Scanner; Inset: Provided

Police officials say 17-year-old Brissa Romero was believed to be inside her car when it drove into a pond in Vernon Hills but the teenager remains missing despite her car being recovered.

Police and fire officials held a joint press conference at the Vernon Hills Police Department at around 4:25 p.m. Monday.

Vernon Hills Chief of Police Patrick Kreis said further analysis of Romero’s cellphone data led investigators Monday morning to a retention pond near Executive Way and Lakeview Parkway in Vernon Hills.

A police supervisor arrived on the scene and met with a resident, who had been walking around the bank of the pond.

Police and fire officials hold a press conference at the Vernon Hills Police Department after missing 17-year-old Brissa Romero’s vehicle was located in a pond near Executive Way and Lakeview Parkway in Vernon Hills Monday afternoon. | Photo: Woo-Sung Shim / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

The resident pointed out a backpack that was floating along the edge of the pond, Kreis said.

The officer found the backpack belonged to Romero, 17, of Carpentersville.

The Countryside Fire Protection District responded to the scene and activated the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS), bringing in specialized dive and sonar equipment from fire departments throughout Lake County and McHenry County.

Kreis said Romero’s 2008 Nissan Rogue was located by fire crews the same afternoon submerged in the pond, but the girl was not inside it.

A vehicle belonging to Brissa Romero, 17, of Carpentersville, (inset) was located in a pond near Executive Way and Lakeview Parkway in Vernon Hills Monday afternoon. | Background Photo: Max Weingardt; Insets: Provided

“Based on the condition of the vehicle and all of the evidence we have at this point, it appears Brissa was in that vehicle when it drove into the lake,” Kreis said.

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The police chief said Romero remains missing and search efforts are ongoing to locate her.

Investigators found video footage from a fast food restaurant approximately a mile away from the pond that captured Romero parking her vehicle.

She walked into the restaurant and walked out of it by herself, the video showed.

Kreis said she then drove away from the restaurant about 15 minutes before her phone last pinged to the pond.

Carpentersville Police Chief Todd Shaver speaks at a press conference Monday afternoon after new details emerged in the missing persons case of Brissa Romero, 17, of Carpentersville. | Photo: Woo-Sung Shim / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

The video from the restaurant is one of the reasons investigators believe Romero was operating the vehicle when it drove into the pond.

“It’s our belief that we need to continue to search this pond,” Kreis said, adding that crews are winding down efforts for the night due to weather conditions.

Dulce Romero, the girl’s sister, spoke at the press conference and said she was thankful for everyone in the community who has helped spread the word on the case.

She was joined by dozens of friends and family members.

“In my heart, I still believe she’s out there,” Dulce said.

Dulce Romero, the sister of missing Brissa Romero, speaks to members of the media during a press conference Monday afternoon. | Photo: Woo-Sung Shim / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

Ernie’s Wrecker Service pulled the vehicle out of the water and investigators from the Lake County Major Crash Assistance Team (MCAT) were seen surrounding the car.

Kreis said the deepest part of the pond is just under 20 feet, which is also the area where Romero’s vehicle went into.

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“The vehicle traveled as much as 60 feet into the pond,” Kreis added.

Monday’s efforts focused on the vehicle and the immediate area near the vehicle but the entire pond has not been searched yet.

The police chief said the area where the car went into the pond was at a “T” intersection.

A vehicle belonging to Brissa Romero was located in a pond near Executive Way and Lakeview Parkway in Vernon Hills Monday afternoon, prompting a heavy police response. | Photo: Max Weingardt

“From the preliminary review of what happened, it really appears like this is a case where a driver, unfamiliar with the area, failed to navigate a turn and went through the intersection, down an embankment, into the pond,” Kreis said.

There are no barriers at the end of the roadway that would keep a vehicle from driving into the pond.

Countryside Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Ron Echtenacher said recovery efforts will continue Tuesday morning.

Echtenacher said the pond is one to two acres in size.

The vehicle, which had its rear hatch open and at least one of the windows broken, was towed to a controlled location so evidence technicians could examine it.

Police believe Romero is deceased and are treating it as a recovery operation.

Vernon Hills Deputy Police Chief Shannon Holubetz told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that there are no indications of foul play.

Countryside Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Ron Echtenacher speaks at a press conference Monday afternoon. | Photo: Woo-Sung Shim / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

Romero has been missing since December 4, according to Carpentersville Deputy Police Chief Kevin Stankowitz.

Stankowitz said Romero was seen on surveillance video that day while visiting a family member in Des Plaines.

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She was seen a short time later on surveillance video at her work in Schaumburg to pick up an iPad.

Romero then left for a holiday work party that was taking place at Bowlero in Vernon Hills on the evening of December 4.

No one at the party ever saw the girl, Stankowitz said, adding that Romero does not have a history of running away from home.

Family and friends held a vigil Sunday afternoon into the evening along Route 21 near Route 45 on the border of Vernon Hills and Lincolnshire.

Family and friends of Brissa Romero, 17, of Carpentersville, held a prayer vigil and gathering at Milwaukee Avenue and Route 45 in Vernon Hills Sunday evening as the search continues for the missing teenager who vanished last week. | Photo: Craig / Captured News

Attendees chanted “Bring Brissa home” and held up signs to passing motorists. “160 hours since we last saw her,” one of the posters read.

She is a graduate of Barrington High School and a current student at Harper College in Palatine.

The Vernon Hills Police Department said that search operations at the pond will resume Tuesday morning.

There will be a police presence in the area overnight and the public is asked to avoid it. “This investigation is not over,” Kreis said.

“We’re going to do everything we can to continue to work cooperatively with the Carpentersville Police Department and support the family and share with them every bit of information we learn, as we learn it,” Kreis added.