Body, vehicle matching missing Kansas woman found in shipping container in Arkansas

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CRITTENDEN COUNTY, Ark. — The Crittenden County Sheriff’s Department said a body believed to be a missing Kansas woman was found inside her vehicle Tuesday.

The vehicle, with the remains inside, was found inside a shipping container in a remote field, down a gravel road about a quarter of a mile off Interstate 55 in eastern Arkansas.

Those remains are believed to belong to Marilane Carter, who was last seen in West Memphis, Arkansas on Aug. 2.

A credit card with Carter’s name was found in the vehicle, they said. Though the remains have not been positively identified, investigators say the car is confirmed to be hers.

Marilane Carter, 36, from Kansas, was last heard from while she was in the Memphis area, her family told police.

No foul play is suspected, the sheriff’s office said.

“I believe that anything that happened, happened by her own doing,” Chief Todd Grooms said.

Family and law enforcement have been searching the area for days, most recently in the Mississippi River.

Grooms said investigators had seen the shipping containers in the field previously, but hadn’t thought to look inside.

“I just never would have dreamed that her vehicle would have been up inside one of them,” Grooms said.

According to the sheriff’s office, it was Carter’s uncle who finally looked inside the shipping container. Carter’s family came to the Memphis area over the weekend to search for her, and everyone returned home except her uncle.

Tuesday morning, he was driving and walking around the area where Carter’s phone was last pinged. He stumbled upon three big containers in a field, and the door on one of the containers was open, authorities said.

He looked inside and found a vehicle matching the description of Carter’s vehicle, they said. He also found a body inside the car before calling the Crittenden County Sheriff’s Department.

Carter’s family said she was in distress when she left her home in Overland Park, Kansas on Aug. 1, and was heading to Alabama, where she once lived, to seek counseling.

Statement from Carter’s family

On Aug. 2, she was seen on a surveillance camera at a West Memphis, Arkansas gas station. A few hours after that, she was on the phone with her parents — the last time they’d ever hear from her.

“We were in contact with her all the way, but then, partway through the trip, she started seeming confused and disoriented. She said she kept on getting lost,” said Marlene Mesler, Carter’s mother.

Right now, investigators say all evidence points to Carter driving there of her own free will and then driving into that shipping container.

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