NEW: Authorities, including the State Bureau of Investigation, are investigating what happened
The body of Carolyn Watkins, 62, was found inside her car at a tow yard Monday
The car was towed from a ditch in Johnston County, North Carolina, on Friday
Angry. Sad. Grieving.
That’s how family members of 62-year-old Carolyn Watkins described their feelings after her body was discovered in a car, days after it was towed from a crash.
“We were wondering where she was, and she was in the car the whole time,” said Algernon Parker, 42, Watkins’ son.
“Even if it was a dog, that would be bad, but you know, I mean, a human? Come on now. You don’t even want to leave your dog in the car for 2 to 3 hours.”
Watkins’ body was found inside her wrecked car at a tow yard Monday, the same day family members said they reported her missing.
Her car was taken to the yard Friday after a trooper discovered it in a ditch in Johnston County, North Carolina. In his report, the trooper noted that no one was in the vehicle.
That report has since been called into question, and authorities said they are working to get to the bottom of the case.
“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.”
At the request of the Johnston County district attorney, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is similarly looking into both the death and the actions of the trooper.
Parker’s wife, Patricia, 43, said the family did not initially report Watkins missing because they figured she had gone out of town for the Easter weekend. Watkins lived with her son and daughter-in-law in Clayton, also in Johnston County.
But when she didn’t show up or call her job Monday, they knew something was wrong.
They filed a report, prompting detectives to go back to the car to search for clues. They found Watkins instead, slumped in the front seat.
“It was terrible she had to lay in that vehicle that long,” Patricia Parker said.
At first, family members were worried Watkins may have still been alive when she was taken to the tow yard, but medical officials have since told them that she likely died on impact.
Watkins suffered blunt force injuries to the head and neck, according to her daughter-in-law.
She blamed the trooper, who was placed on administrative duty with pay following the incident.
Watkins had two children and four grandchildren. She loved to garden, cook and was described by both Parkers as someone who never met a stranger.
“I was angry, and now I’m just sad about it,” said Algernon Parker.
“Tell your loved ones you love them, that’s all. I didn’t have a chance to do it.”