Officials Find Woman's Body Near Walker, Ask for Help With Identification

By Hayley Bruce and Brady Smith, The Gazette & KCRG-TV9

WALKER, Iowa — Police are asking for the public's help to identify a woman found dead in the road northeast of Walker on Wednesday morning.

The development comes after investigators were called to Linn-Buchanan Avenue around 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday for a report of a woman found unresponsive in the road.

When authorities arrived, they found an unidentified white or mixed-race female, fully-clothed, lying in the gravel road, about a quarter mile east of Betty's Grove Road, with multiple, unspecified injuries.

The woman's identity, method of injury and cause of death were not known as of Wednesday evening, prompting authorities to seek the public's help with identifying her.

A release from the Linn County Sheriff's Office said the woman is believed to be about 5'6”, weighing between 180 and 190 pounds with black hair. She also has a tattoo on the back of her right calf that says the word, “MOM,” with a red heart around it. The tattoo is contained within a purple star with green flames coming out of the top of the star.

Authorities said the woman also has another heart tattoo on the back of her neck.

Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner said investigators are taking photos of the tattoo to area tattoo parlors to attempt to identify the woman.

He added that there are no missing person cases in the area that might be associated with the incident, and that investigators plan to send information on the case to the statewide investigative network.

Gardner said the woman's body was initially taken to St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids. It will now go to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Ankeny for an autopsy.

Though dental records are sometimes used to identify individuals, Gardner said they are only helpful once authorities have identified a person they believe to be the John or Jane Doe.

“This tattoo would help us do that,” Gardner said. “We put that out there because it is rather distinctive.”

He added that once authorities have a better idea of who the woman might be, they could take the dental records to that person's dentist to confirm an identity, as there is not a national database of dental records used to identify people. Often, they have to go dentist to dentist, he said.

The Linn County and Buchanan County Sheriff's Offices and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation are investigating the case as a suspicious death.

Gardner said authorities do not believe the public's safety is at risk.

Anyone who may be able to identify the woman is asked to contact the Linn County Sheriff's Office at 319-398-3911.

l Comments: (319) 398-8230; hayley.bruce@sourcemedia.net

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