Identity of body found at S.C. beach a mystery

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COLUMBIA — The identity of a woman found dead in Myrtle Beach during the busy Memorial Day holiday weekend remains a mystery several days after lifeguards pulled her from the surf.

There was no identification on the woman, and she apparently left nothing behind on the beach when she got into the ocean Saturday morning, said Myrtle Beach Police Capt. David Knipes.

An autopsy found water in her lungs, indicating she drowned. Police think it was an accident or suicide, but can’t rule any other cause out until they know who she is and can investigate her background, Knipes said.

Not figuring out who she was that day wasn’t unusual. Investigators figured someone would report her missing when the weekend ended, or maybe an abandoned car would be found in a nearby parking lot. But they have had no luck, Knipes said.

The woman is white, with reddish-blond hair, and is in her late 40s to late 50s. She is between 5-foot-3 and 5-foot-6 and weighs between 170 and 185 pounds.

After four days, police decided Wednesday to release a picture of her tattoo just above her left ankle, altered not to show her leg. It is an ocean scene with bright yellows, reds and oranges with a dolphin on top. Officials hope the tattoo will spark someone’s memory.

“Our last resort is to show a picture of a dead body, but it might come down to that,” Knipes said.

The woman wore a T-shirt with “Sail fast Beaufort, N.C.” on the front and “Live slow” on the back and gray shorts over a floral bathing suit. She was wearing one Reebok shoe when she was pulled from the water.

Investigators have checked local shelters and other agencies but turned up nothing, Knipes said.

Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler said it is unusual to go several days without identifying a body, especially when the person appears to have taken care of herself.

“Usually we struggle to find next-of-kin,” Fowler said. “It is pretty rare that we can’t identify a person a couple of days after they die.”


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