Woman’s death ruled a homicide

Authorities still trying to identify victim

— The Yakima County Sheriff’s Office is calling its investigation into a recovered body a homicide case.

The decision was reached Friday after a pathologist recovered a bullet from the skeletal remains of a woman’s body found Wednesday under a U.S. Highway 97 bridge.

There is a possibility the body is one of three women the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office said were previously reported missing.

“Yakima County Sheriff’s detectives have not yet identified the deceased,” Detective Sgt. Mike Russell said. “Detectives are studying many missing persons from Yakima County and surrounding areas in an attempt to identify the deceased.”

The Sheriff’s Office is also getting inquiries.

“Detectives continue to receive a significant number of calls from persons concerned that the deceased may be a loved one,” Russell said. “This in addition to the missing persons that have already been reported to area law enforcement agencies over the last several months.  It will take some time to work through all of the inquiries.”

The woman, found in the water under a bridge at the highway intersection with Marion Drain is described as 5-foot-5, with dark hair and dark eyes, Coroner Jack Hawkins said. She was between the ages of 20-30, and had been dead 6-8 weeks.

It’s one of two recovered bodies the Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

A body was found in the Yakima River at 12:15 p.m. yesterday, west of West Birchfield Road, Chief of Detectives Ed Levesque said.

“The body had been in the water for quite a while and was badly decomposed and believed to be a male,” he said. “The identity has not been determined at this time.”

An autopsy is set for 11:30 a.m.. tomorrow.


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