All evidence indicates that an Atmore woman whose body was found inside her car last Friday (February 10) died of natural causes.
“There is no evidence of foul play,” Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks said this week of 60-year-old Patricia Marsteller’s demise. “We’ve learned from her medical history that she had several conditions that might have contributed to her death. All indications are that it was natural causes.”
Ms. Marsteller’s body was discovered by Animal Control Officer Corey Flowers, who went to her South Main Street residence in response to a report that a small, incessantly barking dog was inside the vehicle, in which the windows were shut.
Flowers went to investigate and discovered the woman’s body, which had apparently been there for at least 24 hours, slumped over in the front seat.
Police were summoned, and Brooks, several patrol officers and at least one detective joined emergency medical personnel and firefighters in a loose cordon around the vehicle.
After several minutes, Flowers was called back to the scene to remove the dog from the vehicle so that police could begin their examination of the body and any other physical evidence inside the car. Vehicles were used to form a makeshift screen around the vehicle so that the body would not be visible to motorists or pedestrians who passed by.
The woman’s remains have been sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy, which is standard procedure in all unaccompanied deaths.
“We won’t know the exact cause of death until the lab finishes its tests,” Brooks said.
Meanwhile, animal control officers found two other dogs inside the home. All three of the canine pets were taken to the local animal shelter, where they will remain while family members decide whether or not to take them.
“Some family members came in yesterday and looked at them,” said Brandon James, director of Atmore / PCI Animal Shelter, on Cindebran Drive. “They said they would talk with other family members after the funeral and see if anyone will take them. If not, we’ll keep them here and put them up for adoption.”