Missing Alabama Woman Christina Nance Found Dead Inside Police Van in Police Parking Lot
An autopsy concluded Christina Nance did not die from trauma or foul play. Toxicology reports are pending.
An Alabama family wants answers after the body of 29-year-old Christina Nance, who they reported missing on Oct. 2, was found inside a prisoner transport van parked in a busy parking lot outside the Huntsville Police Department.
The woman's remains were discovered five days after her relatives reported her disappearance, authorities said. A police officer noticed a pair of shoes near the vehicle and found her body inside.
"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," Huntsville Deputy Police Chief DeWayne McCarver told reporters Friday.
The transport van's doors should have been locked, McCarver said.
"All city vehicles should remain locked any time they are not in use or occupied," he said. "Sometimes, you just have to say that was something that shouldn't have happened. It did."
After the grim discovery, officers pored over hundreds of hours of surveillance video from the site.
McCarver played clips at Friday's news conference that showed a person wandering the parking lot outside police headquarters on Sept. 25. The grainy footage then showed the person appearing to enter the van. Subsequent images from the following three day showed movement inside the vehicle, he said.
But Nance's family was not satisfied with the footage they were shown. “The video was not clear enough to indicate that that was our sister Christina Nance,” Nance’s sister Whitney Nance, told a local station. “It was just very heartbreaking to know that we didn’t get the clarification that we really needed, that we wanted.”
The family has hired high-profile civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent them while they wait for answers. “We will get to the truth of what happened to Christina Nance,” Crump said in a statement “We lift up Christina’s family with prayer as they mourn this devastating loss.”
McCarver said an autopsy concluded Nance did not die from trauma or foul play. Toxicology reports are pending, he said.
Because the van was used to transport suspects and prisoners, there were no door handles inside, but the windows do pop out a few inches, he said. The parking lot serves the police department headquarters, a magistrate's office and a gun permit office.
“Cars go by, people walk nearby the van,” McCarver said. “We just wish that she would have hollered out to someone or something, because unfortunately there were 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.”
“We simply have no idea of knowing what her state of mind was,” he added.
Nance had previously interacted with local mental health authorities and a crisis intervention team, police said.
“We’ve been working with the Nance family now for over a year with the needs of the family through our CIT program and our community resource officers,” Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray told a local station. “So we’re very close to this family and so we grieve with them, we share the loss of Ms. Nance at this time.”
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