Coroner releases death cause for woman found on interstate (copy)


For The Tribune

An unidentified woman found on the northbound side of Interstate 65 died from blunt force trauma to the chest and abdomen.

The cause of death was determined in a forensic autopsy Tuesday, but the manner of death is still under investigation, Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting said.

Police said Tuesday that toxicology tests also are pending in the case.

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Columbus police reached out to the public Tuesday for tips to learn the woman’s identity, sending a photo of two distinctive tattoos on her arms to media outlets.

On Wednesday, police released three more photos showing parts of the woman’s body with distinctive tattoos.

The investigation began at 8:45 p.m. Monday when police received a report of a deceased woman on the shoulder of the interstate, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

Officers located the woman’s body a short time later and described her as Hispanic with a lip piercing who was 20 to 30 years old. She was wearing a maroon sweatshirt, tan pants and black tennis shoes.

Detectives are working to determine the woman’s identity, Harris said.

The woman was found on what is commonly known as the “rumble strip,” a portion of rough pavement that warns drivers they are leaving the roadway, Harris said.

Officers are working on several possible scenarios about how the woman arrived at the location, including possibilities she was walking on the interstate or dropped off there for some reason, Harris said. No vehicle was found at the scene, he said.

The department has received several tips so far, but none of the information has led to an identity of the woman, he said.

Anyone who was traveling in the I-65 area between 8 and 8:45 p.m. Monday and observed a vehicle parked on or near the interstate or a woman matching the description walking in the area is urged to contact the Columbus Police Department at 812-376-2600.

Tips and information may be left anonymously.

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