Decomposed body found in car

COSTA MESA — A woman whose decomposing body was found inside a car in Costa Mesa apparently did not die from foul play, police said Tuesday.

The body, which was so decomposed that it gave off a strong odor and authorities initially couldn't identify its gender or age, was found in the front passenger seat of a Mercury Grand Marquis about 6:40 p.m. Monday, police said.

An autopsy done Tuesday determined that the person likely was female and there were no visible signs of trauma, said Costa Mesa Police Sgt. Ed Everett. Police are still investigating, but said it appears to have been an unattended death and they aren't treating it as a homicide.

The woman's body was found after a resident called police about the car being illegally parked in front of a driveway in the 2000 block of Tustin Avenue. When a parking enforcement cadet went to the scene, they saw what looked like a body in the car and smelled an odor coming through one of the cracked windows, officials said.

Detectives have contacted the car's owner, an elderly man who has no clear ties to the still unidentified woman, Everett said. The car owner does not live at the Tustin Avenue address and the homeowner there doesn't know him, Everett said.

Investigators know who parked the car in front of the house and why, but aren't releasing that to the public yet, Everett said. He did say the driver, who is not the car owner, was planning on returning to the car.

It appears the woman died in the car before it was left in front of the home. The body was covered with jackets and other articles of clothing, according to police. The autopsy did not reveal the cause of death and the coroner will attempt to do a toxicology report, which takes six to eight weeks, Everett said.

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