Woman identified, no signs of trauma

Published on Thu, May 8, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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Woman identified, no signs of trauma

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

The dead woman found last week in Blaine has been identified, but the cause of death is still unknown.

A border patrol agent found the body of Elaine Berry, 35, of Bellingham in the gravel pit area at the junction of Allan and D streets last Wednesday around 10 a.m. The agent was patrolling the pit, a popular smuggling and border jumping area about 1,000 feet from the Canadian border, when he came upon a vehicle that was sitting in open space, but not visible from the roadway. Inside the vehicle was Berry�s dead body, slumped over, her seat belt unfastened.

Berry, who appears to have no connection to the Blaine area, was identified the next day. �There was identification found in the vehicle,� Blaine police chief Mike Haslip said. �We don�t know why she was here.�

The vehicle, which showed no signs of damage, appeared to be driven in by Berry. �There is no indication that there was anyone else involved,� he said, noting that she had personal possessions in the vehicle. �There was no obvious trauma, no obvious cause of death. There is no evidence of foul play.�

The initial autopsy completed on Thursday revealed no obvious signs of death, Haslip said, and officials are now waiting on the results of a toxicology report, which could take a couple of weeks. The report will reveal the cause of Berry�s death, including the possibility of a drug overdose or system failure.

Haslip said he could not release information about any drugs found in the vehicle, because of individual privacy and possible medical conditions. �I can tell you there were no weapons found in the vehicle,� he said, adding the vehicle she was found in was registered to her.

Haslip believes Berry was in the gravel pit area since Monday or Tuesday, and she was found on Wednesday, May 7.

The public should not be worried about the incident, noting there is no indication this is something other than a single event, Haslip said.

In addition to the Blaine police department and border patrol, the county sheriff department also responded.

Attempts to reach Border Patrol officials were unsuccessful as of press time.

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