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Family Uses Social Media to Put Face on 'Mummified in Michigan'

Relatives of the "mummified woman" believed to have been found in a suburban Detroit garage are striking back against viral media accounts focusing on how Pia Farrenkopf may have died rather than how she robustly lived.

Pia Farrenkopf's niece, Nina Logan, reluctantly named a Facebook page for friends and coworkers to post memories of her aunt "Mummified in Michigan." (Screenshot: Facebook page)
Pia Farrenkopf's niece, Nina Logan, reluctantly named a Facebook page for friends and coworkers to post memories of her aunt "Mummified in Michigan." (Screenshot: Facebook page)

If they could, her family would jettison the whole “mummified woman” tag and go back in time to when Pia Farrenkopf was known simply as a worldly, confident, independent businesswoman who was as full of life as she was successful.

But they’re stuck with the viral tag, given the sensational nature of the March 5 discovery of mummified remains in the garage of Farrenkopf's suburban Detroit home. So they’ve adopted a new tact:

If you can’t beat social media, join it.

Nina Logan, 19, is trying to switch things around with the “Mummified in Michigan” Facebook page she created so people can share memories of how her aunt lived and, she hopes, drown out some of strangers' morbid fascination with how she likely died, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Logan, who lives in Boston, chose “Mummified in Michigan” for the memorial page because use of the phrase in headlines has pushed her aunt's story to the top of search engine results.

“I do not like the name but I wanted the connection to be made with the story and this page,” she wrote. “ I wanted to draw those of you who were reading the story to this page so I could explain to you who Pia Davida Farrenkopf was.”

Logan, who is Farrenkopf’s goddaughter, told the Free Press her aunt “wasn’t a nobody."

“She had a lot of friends,” she said. “She had a lot of co-workers.”

The mummified body found by a contractor in a Jeep in the attached garage of a home on Savanna Drive in Pontiac hasn’t been officially identified and it may not be for several weeks or months unless dental records can be located. But Logan, who last saw her aunt in 2007, and other members of the family are certain the body is Farrenkopf's.

New information is coming out to help authorities put together a timeline on when Farrenkopf may have died. 

A withdrawal was made from her bank account in February 2009. Authorities say they will review credit card, medical, cell phone and other records to learn more about what were likely Farrenkopf’s final days.

Logan said family members tried to contact Farrenkopf when one of her sisters died in 2007 and her mother died in 2012. They left messages on a still-working phone, but didn’t hear back. They and neighbors who weren’t suspicious about not having seen her and assumed she was traveling. as she frequently did for months at a time.

“She was a very private person,” Logan explained. “That’s just how she liked to live her life.”

The family requested that police do a welfare check in 2007 when they didn’t hear from her and were assured nothing was out of the ordinary, Logan said. Nothing had happened to alarm the family in the years since.

“She could be gone for months at at time,” Logan said. “So you just kind of think that, at some point, you’re going to hear from her or she just doesn’t want to be bothered.”

Through the Facebook page, Farrenkopf’s relatives hope to learn more about the mystery surrounding the woman they knew as “a happy, healthy, energetic, intelligent woman with plenty to live for.”

“There’s got to be somebody that knows something,” Logan said.

Farrenkopf’s relatives, who said in earlier reports that they were devastated to read comments that now one had cared about her and that she and her relatives were estranged, are getting some comfort and, in some cases, shared indignation.

Wrote one person who had worked with Farrenkopf:

“I am reading some of these hateful comments from strangers who are so quick to point fingers and assign blame. My heart breaks for you, seeing all that nonsense. I know how private and, well, even reclusive, Pia was so I can understand how your family would not have kept up with her over the years. It goes both ways, doesn't it?

“It even offends ME when these folks remark on why her employer or co-workers didn't notice her absence. She had just quit her job and was very close-mouthed about what she planned to do next and where she would go – she did NOT answer personal questions very often! That is just who Pia was and we all respected her privacy.”

steve March 14, 2014 at 11:08 AM
So, she would go traveling for "months at a time" yet from 2007 to 2014 no one actually took alarm that no one had heard from her at all. I guess that might be a short-coming of setting up auto-pay for all your bills. Still, seven years without contact ...

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