The mummified remains found the backseat of a SUV in a southeast Michigan garage last March have been positively identified as those of Pia Davida Farrenkopf, but how the woman who hadn’t been seen in more than five years died may remain a mystery forever.
Unable to locate dental records, the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office had to rely on a more time-consuming process of extracting DNA from relatives and comparing it with the dead woman’s, the Detroit Free Press reports.
A family member posted earlier this week on the “Mummified in Michigan” Facebook page that Farrenkopf’s survivors aren’t giving up their quest for answers to what they say are puzzling inconsistencies about her death.
According to the most recent post:
“... We have spent the day making arrangements and getting all paperwork filled out so that we may finally bring Pia home. This has brought some closure for our family, knowing we may finally lay Pia to rest.
“We may never know what happened to Pia and, of course, that is something no family ever wants to hear or accept but, we will never stop fighting to find answers and get justice for my aunt.”
Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Bernardino Pacris told the Free Press Thursday the cause and manner of death were ruled undeterminable because vital organs had decomposed and could not be analyzed. He didn’t rule out the “possibility of hypothermia or any drug or chemical intoxication.”
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It doesn’t appear that Farrenkopf met with foul play, Oakland County sheriff’s officials have said.
Farrenkopf’s home on Savanna Drive in Pontiac was in foreclosure when a contractor made the gruesome discovery on March 5. She had done her banking online for years and mortgage and other bill payments were automatically deducted. When the money ran out, the bank initiated foreclosure proceedings. The contractor was there to make repairs to the roof after neighbors reported holes apparently made by raccoons.
Authorities thought her body had been in the back seat of the Jeep Liberty, which had tags that expired in 2008, for at least five years. If still alive, she would be 49.
According to reports at the time of her death, neighbors said Farrenkopf kept to herself, and they assumed she was traveling, as she frequently did for months at a time. After the collapse of the auto industry, for which Farrenkopf did contract work as an financial trouble shooter, they assumed she had moved away.
Family members who set up the Mummified in Michigan Facebook page said they were devastated by media reports that suggested none of Farrenkopf was estranged from her family.
They described her as greatly loved by her friends and family, and smart, worldly and successful, though intensively private.