Nobody heard from her for 9 years. Then her body was found in a freezer

Exterior of the San Diego home where the body of Mary Margaret Haxby-Jones was found in a freezer.
(Google street view)

Mary Margaret Haxby-Jones worked as a nurse anesthetist in San Diego for nearly two decades before resigning in 1999. She went years without speaking to relatives, and exactly what happened to her has been a mystery since December, when her body was discovered in a freezer at a home where she once lived.

Detectives believe Haxby-Jones — who would have been 81 this year — may have been missing or dead for up to nine years. Police say she was never reported as missing.

As the San Diego Police Department awaits a determination on her death from the medical examiner, detectives are working to piece together her life.


“A lot of this investigation is trying to learn what we can about her,” said Lt. Jud Campbell. “There’s a lot of gaps we’re still trying to fill in.”

On Dec. 22, officers arrived at a home on Zion Avenue to investigate a report of a death. Family members visiting from out of town had found a body inside a chest freezer.

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Those visitors are related to a current resident of the home, not to Haxby-Jones, according to Campbell.

On Thursday, police said the body had been identified as Haxby-Jones. Detectives believe that at some point she lived at the address on Zion Avenue.

Her cause of death has not been determined and remains under investigation by the medical examiner’s office, police said. While there was no obvious traumatic injury to the body, police are investigating the case as a suspicious death.

It’s unclear when the medical examiner will have answers about Haxby-Jones’ death, police said.


“When you don’t have that obvious traumatic injury, it’s just a much slower determination,” Campbell said. “They have to come to a determination they can support scientifically.”

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There have been no arrests, according to Campbell. He said no welfare check had been called in on Haxby-Jones.

He declined to answer questions regarding the current resident of the home.

“We just want to get information that will help us figure out what happened here,” Campbell said. “Even while the medical examiner is doing their thing.”

Haxby-Jones worked at the Zion Medical Center from 1980 until 1999, according to a Kaiser Permanente spokesperson.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Mary Margaret Haxby-Jones and want to express our sincerest condolences to her family, friends and loved ones,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Mary Margaret will be remembered as a dedicated healthcare professional and will be greatly missed by all of us at Kaiser Permanente that had the privilege to work alongside her.”

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A relative of Haxby-Jones by marriage, who asked not to be identified due to the ongoing investigation, said she doesn’t believe the woman had any blood relatives and noted that the family “is estranged.”


Although the relative hadn’t seen Haxby-Jones since 1995, she described her as someone who smiled often and loved to get her nails and hair done. Haxby-Jones and her husband also rescued exotic birds, she recalled.

“It’s all under investigation, and it’s kind of saddening about how everything is happening,” the relative said. “We’re trying to not make a comment at this time, because we weren’t there, we don’t know, we can’t answer these questions.”

She added that Haxby-Jones is a military veteran. Google Street View images of the home where records show Haxby-Jones lived show a car with a sticker reading “U.S. Army Retired.”

“I’m hoping that she can get the burial she deserves,” the relative said.