DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – At first officials in Italy thought a Southern Methodist University grad had been kidnapped, but after finding the 23-year-old dead they now believe she was the victim of a hit-and-run.

Allison Owens graduated from SMU last year and had traveled to Italy to work as a tour guide.

Roommates of the young woman told authorities she didn’t return home from a run on Sunday and a frantic search ensued.

Wednesday her body was found half submerged in a canal near a heavily traveled road in Florence.

Investigators believe Owens was hit by a vehicle and possibly never heard the approaching car because she was wearing an iPod.

Late Wednesday morning SMU issued an official statement that said, “The SMU community mourns the loss of Allison Owens, a 2010 graduate, who has been reported dead in Italy of an apparent hit-and-run car accident. In 2010 Allison was named the Outstanding Student in Non-profit Management in the Division of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. We extend our thoughts and prayers to her family and other loved ones during this difficult time.

Owens, a native of Columbus, Ohio, had studied corporate communications and public affairs at SMU and is the granddaughter of the original creator and president of Owens Country Sausage.