Foul Play Not Suspected In Death Of Missing Elderly Woman Found In Landfill

WWJ News
February 18, 2020 - 7:40 am
irene kin missing

Irene Kin (police handout)

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TRENTON (WWJ) - Trenton police say foul play is not suspected in the death of an 86-year-old woman who was found in a landfill 15 days after she disappeared.

Irene Kin was found dead late Sunday night in a remote area of the Riverview Landfill Preserve, off King and Grange roads in Brownstown Township. Her 2002 Ford Taurus was also discovered at the scene, burned out.

Director of Police and Fire Steven Voss said Kin was found a "considerable distance" away from the vehicle.

"Where she's at now, the area has changed considerably over the last two weeks with snow melt, thaw, stuff like that. We had to actually use off-road vehicles to get to where she was at. She was probably, if I had to guess, 300 to 500 feet away from the vehicle," Voss told reporters Monday night. 

An autopsy has been conducted but the official coroner's report is not yet complete. A cause of death hasn't been released. 

"The preliminary report from the ME has come back and he's telling us right now he's not ruling it anything other than there's no foul play, there's no signs of trauma. He's not given us a conclusive," said Voss. "At this time, we believe that arson does not have anything to do with her death."

Kin was last seen Feb. 1 at a Fifth Third Bank, on West Road just west of Fort Street, and had reportedly withdrawn $200 from her account. Some suspected Kin may have been the victim of a robbery, but surveillance footage showed she arrived and left the bank alone. Additionally, Voss said Kin was found with her purse and the money she got at the bank that day. 

As for how she ended up at the landfill, which is about two miles away from the bank, investigators believe she simply got lost. 

"We're sure the vehicle was driven there. We have evidence to indicate that she drove the vehicle there," said Voss. "We have good information that that vehicle entered that landfill on February 1."

Based on evidence at the scene, police don't believe Kin survived much longer after she arrived at the landfill.

"We were all initially, when we were told that her body was not in the vehicle, that gave us a brief glimpse of hope that she had somehow gotten out of there," said Voss. "And then, obviously, later discovered that she hadn't left the landfill site."

Arson investigators are still examining the vehicle to determine how it was burned. 

"The investigation into the arson is ongoing," said Voss. "The Brownstown Township Police and the Michigan State Police are doing that because it happened in their jurisdiction."

Police had a hard time tracking Kin because she had no real digital footprint. But that didn't stop detectives and her family from searching relentlessly. 

"She had no cellphone, she had no credit cards, she had no GPS on her vehicle," said Voss. "The family had a huge resource of friends that were helping in searches and they were checking off different parts of the state, driving to childhood vacation areas, stuff like that, just to see if maybe she had gone there. We had shared with Ohio and Indiana the information that we had, and federal agencies, and come to find out, she was only a couple miles."

The investigation is ongoing.