A preliminary report by the Taney County, Missouri coroner's office has determined the death of a Salt Lake woman who was missing for several days before her body was found in her car in Branson, was "consistent with a homicide."
The body of Deborah Jones, 50, was found in a plastic storage container in the back seat of her Volkswagen Passat outside a motel.
Taney County coroner Kevin Tweedy said the cause of her death was asphyxiation, but he declined to say Wednesday what caused the asphyxiation. The preliminary report showed Jones had been dead between three to four days by the time her body was discovered Monday night.
Additional toxicology test results weren't expected to be completed for four to six weeks, he said. But arrangements were already being made to return Jones' body back to her family.
Jones' former live-in boyfriend, Michael Jerome Doyel, 47, was being held in the Taney County Jail on a fugitive from justice warrant. He waived extradition to Utah, but it was unclear when he would return.
Doyel and Patricia Murray, 59, of West Valley City, were found inside the motel where the car was found. Both were taken into custody by Branson police. Doyel was charged in Utah's 3rd District Court with kidnapping, a second-degree felony, for taking Murray.
Murray, who was ruled incompetent to take care of herself by the state of California and was currently residing at an assisted living facility in Utah, was not given permission to travel anywhere with Doyel, according to court documents.
Murray was released Tuesday by Branson police. Arrangements were made for her to stay in a hotel and her family was making arrangements to have her returned to Utah by Thursday, said Branson Police Chief Carrol McCullough. Her release does not prevent prosecutors from filing charges against her at a later time, he said.
Doyel was transferred to the Taney County Jail after his arrest, McCullough said.
By Wednesday afternoon, he said Branson police were finished with their part of the investigation and were simply assisting Salt Lake police detectives at that point.
If Jones had been dead three or four days before she was discovered, she would have died shortly after the time she was last heard from on Friday.
She met with Salt Lake police detectives April 16 to talk about possible fraud involving Doyel using her credit cards. She was scheduled to meet again with detectives the next day and get a civil stalking injunction against Doyel who had been making harassing phone calls, but she never showed up, according to police.
A friend of Jones received a call from her on April 18, according to Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank. He did not know from where the call was made. That friend was the last known person to talk to Jones before she disappeared.
By Saturday, police had been contacted by Jones' family saying she was missing. An endangered person alert was issued Sunday.Investigators had still not revealed Wednesday why Doyel and Murray were in Branson or if that was their final destination.
Contributing: Dave Abner, Branson Daily News