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October 23, 2014

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Woman dead up to 6 years before being found in garage

PONTIAC, Mich. — The body of a woman whom neighbors say they last saw several years ago was found in a sport utility vehicle parked in the garage of a foreclosed home northwest of Detroit.

An employee of a property management company working for a bank that now owns the house stumbled upon the body in the rear seat of the vehicle while doing a walk-through Wednesday, the Oakland County sheriff's office said.

The body was described by the sheriff's office as being "in a mummified state."

An autopsy performed Thursday by the county medical examiner's office found no trauma to the body. A cause of death has yet to be determined.

"She's been dead years," said Robert Gerds, administrator for the medical examiner's office. "Everything is pending right now. It's still under investigation."

A medical examiner who performed the autopsy told the Detroit Free Press that the internal organs had decomposed, but the skin was intact.

The body is believed to be that of the former homeowner who would have been 49 in 2008, when authorities believe she died.

"She had $54,000 in her account and her bills were being deducted," Undersheriff Mike McCabe told The Associated Press. "Eventually, the money ran out and her house went into foreclosure."

Officials have been told the woman may have been self-employed, but that has yet to be confirmed, McCabe added.

Neighbors told authorities they thought the "woman moved out of the country three or more years ago because they had not seen her and she kept to herself," the sheriff's office said in a news release.

The license plate on the vehicle in the attached garage expired in 2008. Electrical service to the home still was on, but there was no heat.

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