Relatives of Pia Farrenkopf, who dropped out of sight in 2008 and is believed to be the woman whose mummified remains were found in a suburban Detroit garage last week, say they’re “devastated” by reports that no one cared about their sister and aunt.
They said they tried for years to reach her, even asking police to check on her home, CBS News reports.
“It kills us to read that nobody cared for her,” Eric Logan of Plymouth, MA, told The Associated Press. “It’s completely the opposite. All of us are just devastated. … We have been looking for her. We’ve done everything we could do, shy of kicking in the door ourselves.”
Paula Logan of Carver, MA, described her sister as a private woman who was a successful and worldly self-employed financial trouble-shooter. The last time anyone remembers seeing Farrenkopf at her job as a contractor for the now defunct Chrysler Financial was in September 2008. She also got a ticket in Pontiac in October 2008.
And then, nothing.
'It's Not Like We Were Estranged'
Paula Logan last saw her sister in 2007.
She said they frequently stayed in touch, even when Farrenkopf was working or traveling in Germany, England, Switzerland and Egypt – as she frequently did, one reason neighbors in her quiet Pontiac neighborhood said they weren't suspicious when they didn't see her for weeks and months at a time.
“It’s not like we were estranged. … My sister had died. I tried to get in touch with her,” Logan, one of 10 siblings from an Irish-Belgian family in the Boston area, said in the AP interview.
When their mother died, the siblings tried to reach Farrenkopf.
“The phone just rang, rang, rang,” Logan said.
Logan said she isn’t sure when she asked law enforcement officials to do a welfare check at the home, but she recalls them saying “they said they did a wellness check and didn't see anything wrong."
Sister Says Suicide is Unlikely
The gruesome scene inside the attached garage at the home on Savanna Street in Pontiac was discovered March 5 by a contractor who had been asked to make repairs to the roof of the foreclosed home to prevent raccoons from entering a hole.
Inspectors had been in the house on previous occasions, but apparently had not entered the attached garage, where the contractor found the mummified woman in the back seat of a Jeep Liberty that was registered to Farrenkopf.
The bank holding the mortgage on the house had initiated foreclosure proceedings in 2013. Farrenkopf had done her banking online and mortgage, utility and other bill payments were automatically deducted,
Neighbors said she kept to herself and frequently traveled, and they figured she had moved away when the economy soured. Farrenkopf did contract work for the hard-hit automobile industry, her sister said.
Paula Logan doesn’t think her sister, who she described as “energetic, bubbly, well-rounded” and financially well-off, committed suicide – and it’s not a theory law enforcement officials are actively pursuing.
The ignition on the Jeep Liberty was in the “off” position and there was fuel in the tank.
“All of this is puzzling,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in a press briefing last week. “If this was someone deliberately trying to end their own life you would think the key would have been left in the 'on' position and the tank would have been drained.
“For all we know, this person may have just been in the back seat looking for something and suddenly died for some reason,” said Bouchard, who added that it’s unknown if she had any health problems.
Medical Examiner Asks Dentists’ Help
Paula Logan said she’s “100 percent sure” the body is that of her sister, but authorities haven’t confirmed that.
The Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office is asking for the public’s help in identifying the mummified remains – especially dentists who may have treated Farrenkopf.
The deceased woman had quite a bit of dental work done when she was alive, officials said
“Our goal is to forensically identify the deceased woman as soon as possible so that her family can have closure and she can receive a proper and dignified burial,” Dr. Ljubisa J. Dragovic, Oakland County Medical Examiner said in a news release. “If we can acquire her dental records, we can identify her within a day of receiving those records.”
Without the dental records, DNA samples from Farrenkopf’s family will have to be collected and sent to Texas for comparison with the DNA collected from the mummified remains, a process that could take several months.
Anyone with X-rays or other identifying information that could speed up the identification process should call the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office at (248) 858-5097.
Authorities are also trying to unravel another mystery, whether Farrenkopf voted in the 2010 gubernatorial election.
She registered to vote in Pontiac in 2006, but records don’t show that she voted until the 2010, two years after she is believed to have died. Election officials say an administrative error may account for the confusion