PONTIAC (WWJ/AP) – Authorities say they’ve confirmed that mummified remains of a woman found in a metro Detroit garage in March were those of the woman who lived alone at the home.
Authorities this week notified relatives that Pia Farrenkopf had been positively identified using DNA testing. Oakland County Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Bernardino Pacris said the cause and manner of death were both ruled undeterminable.
A message posted to the “Mummified in Michigan” Facebook page, established in Farrenkopf’s memory, said the family can now have some closure and lay their loved one to rest.
“We may never know what happened to Pia and of course that is something no family ever wants to hear or accept but, we will never stop fighting to find answers and get justice for [her],” the message read. “We would like to thank those of you who have sent your thoughts and prayers our way.”
Farrenkopf’s body was found March 5 in the back seat of her 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 was going through foreclosure.
Investigators said they believed the remains belonged to Farrenkopf, but they couldn’t verify her identification.
Authorities believe Farrenkopf died in late 2008 or early 2009. An autopsy didn’t reveal any signs of trauma, police said, and the Jeep keys were in the ignition, which was in the off position – likely ruling out the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. There’s no evidence of foul play, police said.
“The possibility of hypothermia or any drug or chemical intoxication cannot be ruled out,” Pacris told the Free Press.
According to police, the electricity was still on in Farrenkopf’s house, but there was no heat. The home also had a large amount of black mold, police said, and was a HAZMAT situation.
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Farrenkopf lived in the home by herself and had all of her bills – including her mortgage and utilities – automatically withdrawn from her checking account.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. Mail also never piled up at the house because Farrenkopf apparently picked it up at the post office, and neighbors cut her lawn.
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. Reports say Farrenkopf last reported to work in September 2008, and received a ticket in Pontiac for not having proof of insurance in November 2008.
Farrenkopf, a self-employed financial trouble-shooter, would have turned 50 this year.
Nina Logan, Farrenkopf’s niece, said her aunt fell out of touch with family on the east coast due to the amount of traveling she did for work and the fact that she liked her privacy.
“When her mother and sister passed we tried desperately to contact her and let her know but the phone would just ring and ring,” Logan wrote. “Little did we know she was lying dead in her Jeep in her own garage, with multiple people entering and exiting the vehicle and property due to foreclosure process.”
Logan described her aunt as a “happy, healthy, energetic, intelligent woman with plenty to live for.”
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