Authorities said a body clad in dive gear was found in the waters off Palos Verdes Saturday, just as family and friends of missing diver Rebecca Weiss handed out flyers nearby. Weiss had been missing for a week and was thought to have gone diving in the area where the body was found. Michelle Valles reports from Rancho Palos Verdes for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2012.
A body found floating in the water off the Palos Verdes Peninsula coast is that of missing diver Rebecca Weiss, who disappeared a week ago, authorities confirmed late Saturday.
Coroner Investigator Elissa Fleak said the body had been identified as that of Weiss, 50, of Marina del Rey.
No cause of death was available, and the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner will complete an autopsy in the next few days, Fleak said at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
Authorities had said earlier Saturday that the body appeared to be that of a drowning victim.
If the death was accidental, that would potentially calm speculation surrounding the disappearance of Weiss, an experienced free diver from Marina del Rey who frequented the waters off Palos Verdes.
Homicide investigators were on the scene in the rocky waters below Terranea Resort after authorities got a call at 11:37 a.m. stating a body had been discovered in the water, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Lt. John Wolak said.
"A body has been recovered. We don’t know if it’s the missing diver," said Wolak of the Lomita Station mid-day Saturday.
Lt. Holly Francisco, who spoke with reporters on site Saturday afternoon, said recreational divers first spotted the body, which was found to be wearing diving gear.
Francisco could not at the time confirm the dead person's identity or its gender.
Weiss' family members were in the area when the body was found.
"They did not identify the diver that was located in the water, but they were here passing out missing-persons flyers where their family member was last diving," Francisco said.
Francisco said Los Angeles Fire Department responders pulled the body from the water. It had not been identified as a man or woman; that determination would be made by a coroner's investigation, Francisco said.
Wolak said he wasn't sure exactly where the body was found, but the call came from someone at or near Terranea, a luxury resort at the former site of Marineland of the Pacific (map).
The lower portion of the resort, which sits on land above a cliff, had been cordoned off as detectives searched for evidence, Francisco said.
Volunteers on Saturday had planned to pass out flyers in an effort to find out what happened to Weiss, 50, who disappeared after she apparently went diving alone off Rancho Palos Verdes on Aug. 11.
Weiss was supposed to be back by 5 p.m., according to her husband, 60-year-old Alan Weiss, who reported her missing that night. He said that when she did not return as scheduled, he went to the area where they go diving.
Her car and a diving bag were found nearby, but her cellphone and keys remain missing, sheriff's officials said.
Sheriff’s officials have questioned the husband in the case, but detectives do not consider him a suspect in his wife’s disappearance.
"The husband of Rebecca is not considered a suspect. He's been cooperative with investigators," Francisco said Saturday.
She added that investigators believed Rebecca Weiss had been diving alone.
In an interview earlier in the day, before the body was found, Weiss' mother Vilma Causey said she would have a hard time believing her daughter would go diving alone.
"We have number-one rule. I dive myself, and we say there has to be a buddy -- somebody with you -- at all times," Causey said.
Authorities had hoped a surveillance camera near where her car was found might shed more light on Weiss' disappearance.
Divers had searched for Rebecca Weiss Aug. 12 but did not locate her.
She was described as Asian with black hair and brown eyes, 5 foot 5 inches tall and weighing 115 pounds.
She was last seen leaving her home in the 13000 block of Marina Pointe Drive, Marina del Rey, wearing a wetsuit. She left the location in a black 2006 BMW X5, California license plate 5UEJ690.
If you have any information about the location of Rebecca Weiss, please contact Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Or if you wish to remain Anonymous, call “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477).
NBC4's Michelle Valles contributed to this report.