Police said Friday that they suspect the decomposing body of a woman found near Venice's Marina Peninsula neighborhood is that of a missing filmmaker who disappeared June 12.
Although the identity of the woman has not been confirmed by the coroner's office, police believe the woman is Wendy Bott, 38, of West Hollywood, who recently finished filming her first feature, said Det. Mike DePasquale of the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division.
Family members reported Bott missing when she failed to show up at a Hollywood restaurant for a friend's birthday celebration June 12. Bott's car, with her cellular phone and purse inside, was found two days later in a Culver City neighborhood, less than a mile from where the body was discovered.
DePasquale said that the death appears to be a suicide, and that police have ruled out foul play. But Scott Carrier of the coroner's office said an official cause of death will be determined next week. He said Bott's dental records will be used to confirm the identification.
The badly decomposed body was found in a vacant, overgrown field about 9 a.m. Thursday by a man walking his dog.
According to police, the woman appeared to have died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. A gun, a box of ammunition and a black bag were found next to the body, DePasquale said.
Bott's family and friends, who had searched for her, said Friday that they believe the body is hers.
"We're shocked," said Joe Hanauer, Bott's stepfather, who did not know she had access to a gun. "We're trying to understand why she would kill herself. It is completely out of character."
Hanauer said Bott had taken a prescribed antidepressant, Paxil, for many years as way to cure insomnia. However, because she did not take it consistently, side effects from the medication could have made her depressed or anxious, he said.
"Wendy did not like taking it, and sometimes she wouldn't," he said. "This may have been a factor."
Bott, a freelance writer who moved to Los Angeles from New York about 10 years ago, had recently finished shooting "Robbie's Brother," a film she wrote and co-directed. She planned to submit the film to the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Dan Suhart, an assistant director on the film, said Bott was delightful to work with and easily handled the film's grueling schedule.
"Whenever things got bad," he said, "Wendy was the first person to offer a smile, a pat on the back or a hug. Her death is real tragedy."