KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Arkansas officials have released the preliminary cause of death for a missing Overland Park mom who they believe was found dead Tuesday.
Marilane Carter was likely found dead Tuesday in her vehicle in a West Memphis, Arkansas, field near the Mississippi River.
Positive identification of the body is still pending. The body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab.
On Wednesday, the Crittenden County Sheriff’s Office said they believe, based on initial evidence, that the woman died from asphyxiation due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Her vehicle was found inside a shipping container, with the ignition on and it had been running at once.
The cause of death has not yet been confirmed by the medical examiner. Officials do not suspect foul play.
Carter was missing for more than two weeks. The mom of three left the metro on Aug. 1 to drive to Birmingham, Alabama, to visit family and seek mental health treatment.
Police first tracked her to Rolla, Missouri, where Carter stopped at a McDonald’s, then she checked in to a hotel in West Plains, Missouri. She was there for just over two hours before checking out.
Her next stop, police said, was a convenience store in Hazen, Arkansas, then she traveled east to West Memphis where officials saw her on a gas station surveillance camera on Aug. 2.
On Tuesday, the Crittenden County Sheriff’s Office said they found Carter’s vehicle and a woman’s body inside that they believe is the Overland Park mom.
But it was actually a family member who found the vehicle first.
Over the weekend, family members came to West Memphis to help in the search of the Mississippi River and surrounding area. But eventually, everyone returned home — except her uncle.
Tuesday morning, he was driving and walking around the area where Carter’s phone last pinged when he came across three big shipping containers in a field. The door on one of the containers was opened.
He looked in the container and found the vehicle and Carter’s body in the driver’s seat.
The Crittenden County Sheriff’s Office said the ignition was in the run position, and there’s evidence the engine had been running inside the container, leading them to their initial cause of death.
“Information gathered from family members concerning her mental and emotional state during her final communications along with facts gathered from the scene have led investigators to believe that Marilane Carter drove the vehicle into the container and in doing so caused her demise,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
Carter’s family spoke out Tuesday on social media after the horrible news of her death, thanking the community for their support and help in the multi-state search.
“These have been the longest weeks of our lives, as we tried to cling to hope that Marilane was still alive. Thank you to all who have offered words of encouragement, prayers, tips, help, and support during this very difficult time.
“We experienced firsthand the extreme love of friends and strangers. From a young woman who posted Marilane’s picture at truck stops all the way in Florida, to those who participated in prayer vigils, to those who volunteered to help us do a sonar search, the support has been amazing.
“Marilane was dearly loved by family and friends. The all-out effort to find her is a testimony to that”.