The heartbroken mother of University of California, Davis, student Linnea Lomax said she is the one who discovered her daughter's body hanging from a tree near the American River in Sacramento, Calif., this past Friday morning.
"We stood there and we smelled a bad smell, and we were smelling every plant around trying to figure out what it could be," an emotional Marianne Lomax explained at a press conference Tuesday.
Lomax said the smell led her to some thick brush underneath a tree. She said she bent down and crawled through the foliage.
"I crawled through on my knees and hands, and I came to a pretty place right by the river, and the river was there and there was really nothing else there, and then I saw my daughter," she said. "I looked for two seconds, and I knew that was her. I ran up screaming and called 911, and that's how it went."
Marianne Lomax made the horrific discovery while searching in the area of Glenn Hall Park with volunteers from the KlaasKids Foundation. Due to the advanced decomposition of the body, preliminary investigations were unable to determine cause and time of death.
According to Linnea Lomax's father, Craig Lomax, his daughter took her own life.
"It is clear to us that, after a fairly quick onset of mental illness, her delusional fears overcame her to such an extreme that she committed suicide by hanging herself," he said.
The 19-year-old student was last seen alive at an outpatient clinic on Howe Avenue in Sacramento on June 26. She was at the clinic for an all-day visit, but she walked out for lunch and never came back, her friend Heidi Hutchison told The Huffington Post.
According to Hutchison, Lomax had suffered a mental breakdown while studying for finals. A 2011 graduate of El Dorado High School in Placerville, Calif., she had just completed her freshman year at UC Davis in June. She had a 4.0 grade point average and was studying human development, with the intent of pursuing a degree in nursing.
The young woman spent more than a week at a treatment facility. After she showed progress, she was released for outpatient therapy.
Multiple searches were conducted for Lomax, and late last month authorities received their first solid lead when a notebook belonging to her was found near the American River bike trail. The location was not far from the medical center where she was receiving treatment and not far from where her body was later found, police said.
Craig Lomax said he and his wife are still trying to understand what went wrong.
"Up until this last spring, no one ever suspected she might someday become a victim of mental illness," he said. "Her earthly future was filled with the promise of a life with lots of joy, love and meaning. She is our dear sweet daughter who could not be loved more by us or her brother and sister. Our pain is great because our love is great."
Marianne Lomax said she had been praying that God would help her find Linnea, and she said her prayers were answered.
"I believe that God brought me to her, and there's closure because of that."
According to Lomax family spokeswoman Amanda Ernst, a "celebration of life" service will be held for Linnea Lomax on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 22, at Green Valley Community Church in Placerville.