PONTIAC (WWJ) – A woman whose mummified body was rotting for years inside a vehicle at a foreclosed home in metro Detroit has been identified.
Police sources tell WWJ 49-year-old Pia Farrenkopf was identified by her sister, who lives on the east coast.
Farrenkopf’s body was found Wednesday in the back seat of a Jeep Liberty, parked in the attached garage of her home in the 1600 block of Savanna, near Walton Boulevard and Silver Lake Road in Pontiac. The discovery was made just after 5 p.m. by a contractor who was working at the home, which is going through foreclosure.
Investigators say Farrenkopf’s body might have been rotting in her vehicle since 2008, which was the last year the Jeep was registered.
According to police, the electricity was still on in the house, but there was no heat. The home also has a large amount what appears to be black mold, police said.
“The home is in a HAZMAT condition,” Sheriff Mike Bouchard said.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the circumstances behind Farrenkopf’s death. An autopsy performed Thursday morning didn’t reveal any signs of trauma, police said, and a cause of death is pending. Investigators say the Jeep keys were in the ignition, which was in the off position, likely ruling out the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Neighbors described Farrenkopf as a German immigrant who didn’t have any relatives in the area. Police were able to locate her estranged sister on the east coast.
Neighbors say Farrenkopf generally kept to herself and traveled frequently for work, often for weeks at a time, so no one thought anything of her absence. Some said it was probably six years since they last saw the woman, while others just assumed she had moved.
Police say Farrenkopf lived in the home by herself and had all of her bills — including her mortgage and utilities — automatically withdrawn from her checking account. Once her account was depleted and the mortgage payments stopped, the home went into foreclosure. She also reportedly picked up her mail at the post office, which is why it never piled up at her house.
Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe told reporters that officers visited Farrenkopf’s home for a “wellness check” in 2007, but found “nothing out of the ordinary.” He said Farrenkopf was never reported as a missing person.
Investigators are awaiting toxicology results, which could take weeks, but are treating the woman’s death as a homicide.
An investigation is ongoing.