Christina Nance, a 29-year old Black woman from Huntsville, Alabama, was found lifeless inside a prisoner-transport van parked in a police parking lot nearly a week after she had gone missing. Her family is seeking answers why it took that long for the police to find her.
Nance’s body was reportedly found on October 7th in the back of an unoccupied and rarely used police van at the Huntsville Public Safety Complex when an officer noticed a pair of shoes near the van, according to Huntsville Deputy Police Chief DeWayne McCarver. She was reported missing by her family on October 2.
A preliminary autopsy recorded no foul play or bodily trauma, officials said. The cause of death has yet been released.
In surveillance footage released by officials, Nance can be seen wandering through the parking lot before entering the van on September 25. For the following three days, there appeared to be movements inside the van. The last movement recorded was when she opened the van’s windows on September 28, McCarver said.
McCarver said the van was designed for inmate transport, which means there is no way to open the doors from the inside once they are closed. However, department policy requires all police vehicles to always be locked.
“It is an accountability issue on our part,” the deputy chief said, according to The Washington Post. “That should not have happened. And now we have to look at that, and we have to make sure that we have things in place so that does not happen again.”
McCarver then added that the van’s windows were easy to open and were actually open when she was found. But she did not appear to call for help from anyone in the parking lot, which was described to be very busy.
“Cars go by, people walk nearby the van,” McCarver said. “We just wish that she would have hollered out to someone or something because unfortunately there were what we see as potential opportunities for this to not be a tragedy. And unfortunately, no one was able to realize she was in that van.”
Moreover, McCarvey noted that Nance was known and “very familiar” to the department but they “simply have no idea of knowing what her state of mind was.”
Meanwhile, her family, who viewed the footage ahead of the media briefing, was unsatisfied with the footage, saying it has poor quality. They hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent them as they seek answers about the mystery surrounding her tragic death.
“The video was not clear enough to indicate that that was our sister Christina Nance,” Nance’s sister Whitney Nance told WAFF. “It was just very heartbreaking to know that we didn’t get the clarification that we really needed, that we wanted.”