Authorities said that the woman found in a vehicle who is believed to be Marilane Carter, the wife of Pastor Adam Carter who went missing in early August after struggling mentally, died from asphyxiation due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Information gathered from family members concerning her mental and emotional state during her final communications along with facts gathered from the scene have led investigators to believe that Marilane Carter drove the vehicle into the container and in doing so caused her demise,” said the Crittenden County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, according to Fox 4.
A positive identification of the body is still pending but a woman was found inside Carter’s vehicle, along with her purse and credit cards, in a shipping container in a West Memphis, Arkansas, field near the Mississippi River. The Crittenden County Sheriff’s Office said the ignition was in the run position and there’s evidence the engine had been running inside the container, leading them to their initial cause of death. Authorities do not suspect foul play.
The Overland Park Police Department said the 36-year-old pastor’s wife, who graduated from Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School and was a mother of three young children, was last seen by her family around 8:15 p.m. on Aug. 1. She left her home that day to go to Birmingham, where her parents and sister live, al.com reported.
In a message posted to Facebook on Aug. 5, Marilane Carter’s brother-in-law, Paul Carter, said she had been considering getting psychiatric help when she left.
“Over this past weekend (August 1st & 2nd), Marilane has been desiring to receive psychiatric help. She has not been seen since Saturday evening and has not been heard from since Sunday evening. She was last heard from in the Memphis, Tennessee area. Her intent was to get to Birmingham, Alabama. She was driving her 2011 dark grey GMC Acadia with Kansas plates 194 LFY,” Paul Carter wrote.
Police first tracked her to Rolla, Missouri, where Carter stopped at a McDonald’s, then she checked in to a hotel in West Plains, Missouri Fox 4 reported. Carter stayed there for just over two hours before checking out.
She later stopped at a convenience store in Hazen, Arkansas, then she traveled east to West Memphis where she was recorded on a gas station surveillance camera on Aug. 2.
Police said over the weekend, family members traveled to West Memphis to help search the Mississippi River and the surrounding area. They would eventually leave without success but her uncle stayed behind to continue looking.
On Tuesday, he was reportedly driving and walking around the area where Carter’s phone last pinged when he came across three big shipping containers in a field. The door on one of the containers was open and when he looked inside, he found Carter’s vehicle with a body in the driver’s seat.
In a tribute to her sister, McKenzie wrote that "Marilane's faith in the Lord was always very important to her. Honestly, I don't know what any of us would do without that right now. She clung to her faith to the very end. The only way we can have peace in this is because we know she is safe with Jesus, and He makes all things new."