HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (WXYZ) - An 81-year-old woman from Southfield was found dead in a burning car Saturday morning near the intersection of 3rd and Buena Vista.
The woman’s body was burned beyond recognition. Investigators identified her through a medical bracelet worn by the victim. However, they are not releasing her name until her identity has been confirmed through scientific testing.
The cause of death is under investigation, but detectives believe it is an obvious case of homicide. After searching the woman's home police say they found signs of an assault or struggle inside.
“She was always a nice person. Caring, always interested in her job and everything, so it’s real sad to hear that she passed in such a cruel way,” said Antonio Adams. Adams worked with the woman for several years for the City of Southfield before he said she retired from the Parks and Recreation Department. Adams believes she still volunteered for one of the city’s dance programs.
“She was always an upstanding citizen and everything and a good co-worker,” said Adams.
The last time the elderly woman had been seen by neighbors was around 3pm on Thanksgiving Day. Police now say the last known contact she had with anyone was on Friday, November 25 at approsimately 7:30 p.m.
Her car was found early Saturday morning. Despite being badly burned, the cause of death will not be known until the autopsy is performed.
“I seen the cops over here earlier and I was wondering what was going on because I know it’s an older lady and stuff and I wouldn’t wish nothing on my grandparents like that neither,” said Derek Ketz. Ketz lives around the corner and noticed police at the woman’s home earlier in the day.
The circumstances of what happened are not known, but sources tell Action News it’s possible the woman was carjacked or kidnapped and was then left in Highland Park.
The 81-year-old was known around the neighborhood for keeping a nice yard and driving wherever she needed to go, despite having heart surgery a few years ago.
“She had a problem with her heart or something years ago, but she’s very active,” said Adams.
Police have not released the victim’s identity.
The horrific discovery comes less than a week after an 81-year-old woman in Royal Oak was murdered -- her throat was slashed. Two suspects are in custody in connection with the killing.
Stay with wxyz.com and 7 Action News Saturday after the game for updates to this story.
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