Family irate after woman's body found 3 days after vehicle towed

mcaulder@newsobserver.comApril 2, 2013 

— The family of a Clayton woman is furious after Smithfield Police Department detectives discovered her body Monday inside her wrecked car, which had been sitting in a Willow Creek towing company lot since Friday.

Carolyn Ann Watkins, 62, was reported missing Monday by her son, Al Parker.

Parker assumed she was visiting with friends over the weekend but reported her missing to police Monday morning when she did not show up to her job at Wendy’s on Brightleaf Boulevard in Smithfield.

Smithfield police detectives matched the description of her 2000 Pontiac coupe with a state Highway Patrol report of a car found in a ditch on Swift Creek Road on Friday and towed to Dustin’s Towing & Recovery’s lot.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper Marlon D. Williams, who processed the scene, noted in the accident report: “No driver at the scene of this collision.”

But when the Smithfield detectives went to the towing company’s lot to search the car for clues, they found Watkins’ body inside.

The wreck happened less than two miles from the home that she shared with her son on Hickory Drive.

Williams, a nine-year veteran of the Highway Patrol, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation.

Watkins’ body was taken to State Medical Examiner’s office in Raleigh for an autopsy to determine the cause of her death.

Watkins’ daughter-in-law, Patricia Parker, said the police told them that an off-duty trooper spotted the wreckage Friday morning and called the accident in and Williams responded.

Parker said the family does not understand how both troopers failed to see Watkins in the car, even though the front seat airbags were deployed. They wonder whether she may have still been alive at that point.

“First and foremost, we offer our most sincere condolences to Carolyn Watkins’ family,” said Frank Perry, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, Law Enforcement Division. “At this early stage, our main concern is to conduct a thorough and professional investigation so we can determine exactly what happened.”

Caulder: 829-4758

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