It could take more than a week for authorities to determine the identity of a woman whose badly decomposed body was discovered this week inside a hollow brick column at a mobile home park, police said Thursday.
"We probably won't know how she died for quite some time," Police Lt. Timm Browne said. "The coroner is conducting forensic and pathological studies, but with a decomposing body it's very difficult."
The body, which is believed to be that of a female in her mid-20s, was discovered Wednesday morning at the recreation room at Park Royale on Rampart Street. Residents had been complaining for several days about a foul odor coming from somewhere in the room.
Police continued their investigation Thursday but had turned up few new leads and could still not say whether the woman fell into the column or was pushed.
"It would be a very difficult task to cart a body up there and put it where she was," Browne said. "But that is purely guesswork."
Browne confirmed speculation among neighbors that a woman who had been staying with friends at the mobile home park had been reported missing recently. But he refused to disclose the missing woman's identity and would not say if police believe that it is the same person.
"It's certainly premature to make the quantum leap that this corpse is in fact the missing person," Browne said. "We don't want to put her family under any undo stress and trauma."
Meanwhile, the maintenance worker who made the grim discovery Wednesday remained traumatized and unable to work.
"I want justice served for whoever could do such a thing," said the worker, who asked not to be identified. "That poor woman. No one should have to die that way."
The man, who has lived at the park for more than three years, said employees and residents thought that a dead animal might be caught somewhere in the brick column, which is accessible only through the attic crawl space.
"I'm the unfortunate person who had the task of finding this," he said. "I've never experienced anything like it. I am totally traumatized."
Park manager Ralph Strickler said that although rumors continue to circulate throughout the community of more than 200 homes, life has begun to return to normal for residents.
"It's a little spooky," Strickler said. "Thank goodness it's not something you have happen every day."