An Alabama family wants answers after the body of 29-year-old Christina Nance, who they reported missing on Oct. 2, was found inside a prisoner transport van parked in a busy parking lot outside the Huntsville Police Department.
Authorities stated that the remains of this woman’s body were found five days later than her family reported her disappearance. A police officer saw a pair of shoes nearby and discovered the body.
“The officer noticed shoes next to the van and approached, discovering Ms. Nance’s body inside. Windows on the van were observed to be opened, and on this type of van, they popped outward,” Huntsville Deputy Police Chief DeWayne McCarver told reporters Friday.
McCarver suggested that the van’s doors should be locked.
“All city vehicles should remain locked any time they are not in use or occupied, “He said. “Sometimes, you have to say that was something that shouldn’t have happened. It did.”
Officers analyzed hundreds of hour’s worth of surveillance footage from the site after the shocking discovery.
McCarver showed clips from Friday’s news conference, which showed a person walking in the parking lot near police headquarters on Sept. 25, 2012. The grainy footage later showed the individual appearing to enter the van. He stated that the person appeared to be moving inside the van in subsequent images over the three days.
Nance’s family wasn’t satisfied with the footage. “The video was not clear enough to indicate that that was our sister Christina Nance,” Nance’s sister Whitney Nance told a local station. “It was just very heartbreaking to know that we didn’t get the clarification that we needed, that we wanted.”
While they wait for answers, the family has retained Ben Crump, a prominent civil rights lawyer. “We will get to the truth of what happened to Christina Nance,” Crump stated in a statement. “We lift Christina’s family with prayer as they mourn this devastating loss.”
McCarver stated that an autopsy determined Nance died from no trauma or foul play. He said that toxicology reports are still pending.
Because the van was used to transport suspects and prisoners, there were no door handles inside, but the windows pop out a few inches. This lot is home to the police department headquarters, a magistrates office, and a gun permit officer.
“Cars go by, people walk nearby the van,” McCarver added. “We wish that she would have hollered out to someone or something because, unfortunately, there were what we see as potential opportunities for this not to be a tragedy. And unfortunately, no one was able to realize she was in that van.”
“We simply have no idea of knowing what her state of mind was,” He added.
Police said that Nance had previously interacted with local mental health authorities and a crisis intervention team.
“We’ve been working with the Nance family now for over a year with the needs of the family through our CIT program, and our community resource officers,” Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray spoke to a local station. “So we’re very close to this family, and so we grieve with them, we share the loss of Ms. Nance at this time.”