PONTIAC, Mich. (USA TODAY) — A woman whose mummified body was discovered in the backseat of an SUV has been identified, more than four months later and five years after authorities believe she died.
The body of Pia Farrenkopf didn't have moist organ tissue from a heart, liver or lungs that the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office could examine to determine a cause of death, Dr. Bernardino Pacris, the medical examiner, said Thursday.
Farrenkopf had no dental records available. Pacris' investigators used DNA, which is time intensive, he said. They told Farrenkopf's relatives this week that she had been positively identified.
"The possibility of hypothermia or any drug or chemical intoxication cannot be ruled out" as a cause of death, Pacris said. Officials tried using mummified muscle for toxicology tests, but it didn't provide information to determine how she died.
The grisly discovery was made on March 5 when a bank contractor went to Farrenkopf's home and found her inside the Jeep Liberty parked in her garage.
Sheriff's deputies said they found no signs that anyone harmed Farrenkopf, who would have been 49 if she were alive.
Investigators subpoenaed bank, phone and health records and said it appears that Farrenkopf died in early 2009.
She left her job in May 2008, neighbors tended to her yard for years and many of her bills were paid automatically until the money ran out, and her house, where she lived alone, was foreclosed upon.
Her large Boston-area family continues to seek answers in her death.
They could not be reached for comment Thursday but previously have described Farrenkopf as kind, smart, driven and intensely private. They said she often traveled for work, was loved and will never be forgotten.
"We may never know what happened to Pia, and of course, that is something no family ever wants to hear or accept," a posting on a Facebook page set up by her niece said. "But we will never stop fighting to find answers and get justice for my aunt."
The message, posted Tuesday, said family members spent the day making arrangements and filing paperwork so they finally can bring Farrenkopf home.
"This has brought some closure for our family, knowing we may finally lay Pia to rest," the message said.