Missing in Michigan helps in search for loved ones

Body of missing Southfield woman found in morgue

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published April 30, 2015

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The body of a woman who had been missing since April 2013 was recently located at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Ella Andrews, 52, went missing two years ago from a Southfield group home in the 27000 block of Pebblebrook Street. According to police, Andrews was on foot and without any belongings.

Police issued an alert on April 29, 2013 for residents to keep an eye out for the woman. In an earlier report, police said Andrews was suspected of experiencing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Ryan Bridges, Wayne County communications manager, Andrews’ body had been sitting in the morgue for two years before it was even processed. Bridges said an unidentified body had been discovered in Detroit and was sent to the Medical Examiner’s Office to be identified.

Bridges said it was apparent that Andrews died quite some time before she was discovered.

“We couldn’t identify who she was,” Bridges said. “That’s why this persisted so long.”

As a result, Andrews’ body sat in the morgue until recently, when the Medical Examiner’s Office received a federal grant from the University of North Texas, which enabled the DNA of Andrews’ body, and several others, to be tested.

Once it was discovered that the body was that of Andrews, Bridges said, the Southfield Police Department was notified, which in turn notified her family.

When Andrews went missing, Southfield Deputy Police  Chief Nick Loussia said, she was entered into the Law Enforcement Information Network as a Missing Person-Endangered, and an unsuccessful K-9 track was conducted.

Witnesses reported possibly seeing Andrews in the area of 11 Mile and Inkster roads in Southfield, and also in the area of 11 Mile and Middlebelt in Farmington Hills, Loussia said. Both times, residents called into local police stations about the wandering woman.

In an earlier report, Andrews’ daughter said she checked every hospital in the area, passed out fliers and even used social media.

Her daughter also set up a Facebook page to help track down her mother.

According to her daughter, Andrews suffered from depression, and before her disappearance, began showing signs of incoherence in conversation and even ran off — including once overnight when she reported sleeping inside an abandoned building.

The Michigan State Police Biometrics and Identification Division’s annual Missing in Michigan event will take place from 1-5 p.m. May 16 at the General Motors Renaissance Center in Detroit. The event is designed for the families of missing people and  law enforcement to update their cases with fingerprints and DNA profiles.

According to a news release from Lt. Michael Shaw, public information officer with the Michigan State Police, the event is also designed for families to remember the missing loved ones.

In the event that a friend or family member goes missing, Loussia said, before contacting the police, residents can do some preliminary work on their own, such as contacting other friends and family to see if they’ve heard from the person, and utilizing social media to see when was the last time the person in question posted to their page.

If the missing person is a minor and/or foul play is believed to be involved in the disappearance, Loussia said the individual will be entered into LEIN immediately. If that’s not the case, police will typically take action after 24-72 hours.

Loussia said police will then respond to the scene and investigate, searching for clues as to how or why the person disappeared.

“Let’s say the person is missing and their car, medications, keys, wallet, things like that are still there. That’ll lead us to believe something is going on,” Loussia said.

Once someone goes missing, Loussia said, they are entered into a database — the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System — which is a free online system that can be searched by medical examiners, coroners, law enforcement officials and the general public, according to namus.gov.

While missing people are a serious matter, Loussia said there is a chance most people will be found.

“When the reports are made, most of the time they are found,” Loussia said.

For parents, Loussia said it’s important to keep current photos of their children and to keep track of any special characteristics, such as braces, glasses and what they were wearing when they were last seen.

For more information on Missing in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/missinginmichigan.

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