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 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 the Walmart store. 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’s 845 Palm Bay Road location.
The van, sitting near the store's garden center, had a weathered, temporary tag possibly from Wisconsin and a handicap placard on the inside, police said. It was not immediately known if the woman 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, passers-by noticed a sport utility vehicle sitting long term in the parking lot of Walmart in Viera. Inside were the remains of an older man who suffered from a terminal illness.
In July of the same year, shoppers noticed a foul odorfrom a two-tone silver Buick parked near the Walmart and an old Radio Shack store in Melbourne's beachside jurisdiction. Police say such gruesome discoveries happen with some frequency. There are also other reports of similar cases at other heavily visited retail business parking lots across the country.
In the West Melbourne case, the medical examiner’s office will go over the remains to determine if foul play or some other issue played a role in the woman’s death. The body was moved from the vehicle, then transported to Rockledge, where an autopsy will be performed.