Detectives close to identifying woman found dead near old Elwha Dam site
By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Detectives with the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office are waiting, however, for a positive identification through medical records before releasing her name to the public.
“It’s our responsibility to the family and the friends to be positive about the identity before we start releasing the information to public knowledge,” said John Keegan, one of the Sheriff’s Office detective sergeants assigned to the case.
He said an autopsy conducted Friday on the body confirmed the cause of death was suicide via a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Investigators believe the woman is from the Grays Harbor area and likely traveled north via bus, since no car associated with her has been found in Clallam County.
A Seattle-area woman read a Peninsula Daily News article about the body and told investigators she thought she might have known the woman, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
“She gave us a description and a name, and [we were] able to get a photo from the Department of Licensing,” Keegan said.
The photo matched, Keegan said, but a definitive identification was difficult because of the condition of the body and the damage to the head from the gunshot wound.
The woman likely had been dead for at least a week, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Keegan said detectives are trying to find friends and family of the woman.
“We’re still trying to identify if there are any next of kin,” he said.
Keegan said he could not estimate when a positive identification could be released, adding that detectives are determining who the woman’s medical care providers were so her records can be reviewed.
The woman’s body was found Oct. 17 roughly 65 yards off where Lower Dam Road turns into a gravel road, along a narrow trail leading into the woods near where Elwha Dam once stood.
A Washington Conservation Corps crew found the body, which was lying next to a revolver, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Nearby was a large handbag with a shoulder strap, initially described as backpack, with a bottle of water, some trail mix and other personal items, Keegan said.
“It was something a person might take with them while traveling a long distance or for a long time,” he said.
In his experience, Keegan said, it’s “not uncommon” for people to travel to specific places to take their lives.
Individuals might have an emotional connection to a specific place, he explained, or just seek a secluded space with few other people.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: October 24. 2013 7:02PM