Nearly two months after a beloved Delaware County English teacher was found dead in the Brandywine River, detectives on Wednesday asked the public for information that could help solve a case that has puzzled investigators.
The body of Susan Morrissey Ledyard was found just before 7:40 a.m. on July 23 in a stretch of the river that flows through Wilmington, not far from where she lived, police said. She had visible injuries, although authorities declined to provide more information because the cause and manner of death remain under investigation.
Investigators said they ruled out the possibility that Ledyard, a longtime teacher at Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill, had killed herself.
The questions surrounding her death have prevented her family from getting closure, said relatives who spoke alongside police at a news conference Wednesday in Newark, Del.
“Susan was the love of my life, my best friend, my beloved wife,” said her husband, Ben Ledyard. “She is so missed and I am so heartbroken.”
His brother-in-law, John Morrissey, implored the public to contact police with tips.
“We know she is gone, but we are asking for help because we simply don’t know how she died,” he said.
On the morning Ledyard died, investigators said she stayed up late, texting friends until 2:45 a.m. At 3:02 a.m., dressed in a purple tank top, she got into her black Honda Civic and drove two minutes to a road near a bridge. She then turned the headlights off and got out. Police said they do not know what Ledyard, 50, did between then and 7 a.m., when they were alerted that her body was in the river.
An hour after authorities discovered Ledyard’s body, they said they were notified that her empty car was parked where she had left it on Walkers Mill Road, about three miles upriver from where she was found.
Since her death, investigators reviewed surveillance footage that pieced together some of the last hours of her life and her cell phone records.
The texts she sent to friends the morning she died were not out of the ordinary, police said. Nor was it uncommon for her to stay up late using her phone, they said, or to sometimes go for a walk while it was dark outside.
In the days after Ledyard’s death, shocked and saddened family and colleagues spoke warmly of the longtime educator who was born in West Chester and raised in the surrounding suburbs before setting off to study at Georgetown University and San Francisco State University. It was an abrupt and seemingly implausible end for a nature-loving, bookish woman, "respected by her peers, loved by her students,” according to her obituary.
“Susan was a thinker, a debater and a warrior for the rights of all people,” the obituary said. “She was not a fan of the Oxford comma and did not suffer pretensions gladly. She was also a daughter, sister, spouse, aunt, and proud step-mom. Her love for her family and friends ran deep. Friendships were measured in decades, not years.”
The loss, her tearful family said Wednesday, has been made worse by the lack of information about her death.
“Susan was the superstar of our family; a tough genius,” said her brother, John. “Susan was special, as everyone is special, but she was ours.”