A missing Alabama woman’s body has been found in an unoccupied police van — prompting questions about her death and how she could go undetected as authorities were searching for her.
Christina Nance, 29, was discovered dead in a prisoner transport van Oct. 7, five days after she was reported missing, Deputy Police Chief DeWayne McCarver said.
The vehicle was parked at a public safety complex in Huntsville.
“The officer noticed shoes next to the van and approached, discovering Ms. Nance’s body inside. Windows on the van were observed to be opened and on this type of van they popped outward,” McCarver said on Friday at a press conference, CNN reported.
No cause of death has been determined, but preliminary autopsy results didn’t indicate that there was any foul play or bodily trauma.
“The official cause of death will be ruled by the state medical examiner once additional studies, including toxicology, are complete,” police said.
Police released surveillance footage of a woman believed to be Nance wandering through the parking lot on Sept. 25, then appearing to enter the van.
But her family — who reported her missing on Oct. 2 — said they have their doubts about the footage.
“The video was not clear enough to indicate that that was our sister Christina Nance,” Nance’s sister Whitney Nance told news station WAFF.
“It was just very heartbreaking to know that we didn’t get the clarification that we really needed, that we wanted.”
Police have said it’s protocol for the vans to be kept locked.
“It is an accountability issue on our part,” McCarver said. “That should not have happened. And now we have to look at that, and we have to make sure that we have things in place so that does not happen again.”
It’s unclear how Nance went undetected in the busy police parking lot.
“Cars go by, people walk nearby the van. We just wish that she would have hollered out to someone or something, because there were plenty of … what we see as potential opportunities for this to not be a tragedy. And unfortunately, no one was able to realize she was in that van and that was the outcome,” McCarver said.