Clues sought in woman’s death
TRUCKEE – Police remained puzzled Wednesday by the death of a 54-year-old homeless woman from Reno who was found wrapped in a blanket and rope and crammed into a duffel bag left in a Truckee parking lot Monday afternoon.
An autopsy of the victim, identified as Cynthia Dee Erler, has provided little new information on how she died. Officials at the Placer County morgue identified her by her fingerprints. She also used a number of other last names – Farr, Farrar, Faustion and Keck – during the past 15 years she apparently lived on the streets of Reno.
“There are no obvious signs of trauma to the body,” said Truckee Police Lt. Dan Johnston. “There are no obvious signs of death.”
The woman had lived on the streets of Reno and in low-budget hotels in the city for at least the last 15 years. She had a criminal history but had no ties to the Truckee area where her body was found, Johnston said.
Toxicology reports, which could take weeks to finalize, will determine if drugs or poison were involved in her death. The woman had a medical history that police would not divulge.
Truckee police are in Reno questioning her friends. Her relatives, who live in central California, are being tracked down so they can be notified of the death.
“Our plans are to attempt to locate where she might have died, how she might have died, and who was involved with … placing her body into a fairly small bag and bringing her up into this area,” said Johnston.
Police said the woman’s body was not treated well after she died. Although small – approximately 5-feet-4-inches tall and just over 100 pounds – the woman’s body had to be manipulated to fit it inside the fairly small duffel bag.
“The bag is smaller than she would be standing up and she was placed in that bag,” said Johnston.
Truckee officials, who initially believed that the death was a murder, are now uncertain of the cause of death after the autopsy report came out.
“We know that she died. We don’t have any indications that it was as a result of a homicide at this time,” said Johnston. “It very easily could have been. It is not natural to put somebody in a bag like that.”
No eyewitnesses have come forward, but the police are busy following up on about 250 tips that have come in.
The Northwoods Clubhouse, where the body was discovered by four golfers returning from a Reno golf game, appears to be a “random location” for the body to be dumped, police said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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