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Body found in van at Walmart in Brevard might have been there month

No word whether foul play suspected

photo
(From Walmart)

WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. – A woman whose badly decomposed body was found in a van in a Walmart parking lot was seen on video arriving at the location a month ago, leaving open the possibility that the vehicle sat there unnoticed for several weeks, including during Hurricane Matthew's passage.

West Melbourne detectives are conducting a death investigation and sorting through surveillance video provided by Walmart. The body, possibly that of a 53-year-old woman, was discovered by a worker 4 p.m. Wednesday in a Dodge Grand Caravan at the store at 845 Palm Bay Road, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

The van, parked near the store's garden center, had a weathered, temporary tag, possibly from Wisconsin, and a handicapped placard inside, police said. It was not immediately known if the woman, possibly homeless, had been reported missing at any point. Detectives were in contact with the woman's brother.

It is the third case of a person’s remains being found at a Brevard County Walmart since 2015. In March 2015, passersby noticed an SUV sitting for a long time in the parking lot of a Viera Walmart. Inside, were the remains of an older man who suffered from a terminal illness.

In July 2015, shoppers noticed a foul odor coming from a two-tone silver Buick parked near Walmart and an old Radio Shack store in Melbourne's beachside jurisdiction. Police said such gruesome discoveries are not unique. There are also other reports of similar cases at Walmart stores and in other retail business parking lots across the country wherever there is heavy traffic.

In the West Melbourne case, the medical examiner’s office will go over the remains to determine if foul play or some other issued played a role in the woman’s death. The body was moved from the vehicle, then taken to Rockledge, where an autopsy will be performed.

“We didn’t see anything obvious,” said Capt. Richard Cordeau, spokesman with the West Melbourne Police Department, of any potential injuries.

"The body has been there longer than a week, possibly over a month. The surveillance video shows a vehicle pull in over a month ago in the same general area. Right now, we are waiting to hear from the medical examiner," said Cordeau, adding that detectives were en route to the site.

The body was discovered Wednesday after a worker spotted it resting in the vehicle.

Several patrol cars were  at the site near the parking area where the body was found in a van. Officers also roped off the area with crime scene tape as customers at the retail store looked on. The scene was cleared within a few hours.

An investigation continues.