A Sterling Heights woman was found dead with chemicals inside a car stationed in a park’s parking lot early March 25, and police say they suspect it was a case of suicide.
A Sterling Heights police officer was reportedly scoping out Delia Park, 3001 18 Mile Road, at around 4:45 a.m. March 25 and noticed a maroon 2006 Ford Focus at the parking lot’s west side.
Police said the car looked suspicious, and upon taking a closer look, the officer discovered multiple signs on the vehicle that stated “Contact 911 Hazmat.”
According to the officer, the vehicle gave off a strong smell, and a 23-year-old Sterling Heights woman was in the driver’s seat but did not appear to be moving.
Police sought help from the Fire Department’s hazmat emergency crew, the Macomb County hazmat team and the Macomb County Medical Examiner's Office. Officials concluded that the woman inside the car had died. Police had not revealed the woman’s name at press time.
The car’s interior contained a bucket of mystery fluid and containers of muriatic acid, another name for hydrochloric acid, police said.
During the investigation, police blocked off the park at its 18 Mile Road entrance.
“At no time was there any danger to any residents located around the park,” reads a statement from the Sterling Heights Police Department.
“The officer who located the victim did not appear to have sustained any injury, but is being checked out due to the toxic nature of the substance located in the bucket.”
Police notified the woman’s family.
Police Lt. Luke Riley said the woman lived with her mother and siblings. Upon talking to the relatives, police learned that she had come from Uganda and was involved in a deportation case that had been under appeal, Riley said.
Riley explained that police still do not have all the answers when it comes to the timeline surrounding the death.
“She left home the evening before,” he said. “How long she was there in the car with this substance in there, we don’t know.”
Police say detectives will continue to investigate.
Anyone with information on these or other incidents can call the Sterling Heights Police Department at (586) 446-2800.
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