Body of missing woman Barbara Howe found in trunk of her car - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Police investigating woman found in trunk as a homicide

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(Source: Ohio's Missing Adult Alert) (Source: Ohio's Missing Adult Alert)
Source: Monroe Police Source: Monroe Police
MONROE, OH (FOX19) -

Police are investigating the death of an elderly woman found inside the trunk of her car as a homicide.

An Endangered Missing Adult Alert was issued for 86-year-old Barbara Howe on Tuesday. On Thursday afternoon, her 2005 Red Cadillac STS was found at Woodridge Park East Apartments in Middletown.

"We just want to know what happened and why her," daughter Donna Wesselman told FOX19.

Wesselman says her mother was still driving, going to wine tastings, even Zumba classes.

"She had a ton of life in her," Wesselmen said. "Her own mother lived into her mid nineties and I fully expected my mother would do the same."

Donna says she had just seen her mother last week for her birthday. Both Wesselman and her sister Nancy Fruechtenicht say their mother was a mom's mom. Howe's husband had passed away years back and Barbara's girls say their mother was the center of the family.

"This shouldn't have happened to a woman like her," Donna said. "She was a wonderful mother, a very intelligent and a very vibrant woman."

"She wouldn't bother anybody with anything and sometimes we wished she would," daughter Nancy Fruechtenicht told FOX19.

Fruechtenicht drove in from Georgia once she heard the news.

"For the first time in my life I know what despair is and that's how I feel," Fruechtenicht said with tears in her eyes.

Nancy was supposed to visit her mom this week, but Barbara went missing just days before the planned trip.

"She never fails to say ‘I don't know what I'd do without my girls'," Nancy said of her mother. "And I don't know what to do without her."

Both Wesselman and Fruechtenicht are asking anyone with information to come forward so that they can find closure.

"I just encourage anyone with an inkling of anything to pass it along," Wesselman said.

Police say Howe lived alone in a retirement village in Monroe, and there were no signs of foul play at her residence. They don't know how her car ended up in Middletown.

Howe was last seen on Oct. 28 in Monroe and she was last heard from on Sunday when she sent an email to a relative.

Police have no suspects at this time. An autopsy was performed Friday morning at the Butler County Coroner's Office to determine an exact cause of death. Police are awaiting the results.

If you have any information, call the Monroe Police Department at 513-539-9234 or the tip line at 513-360-2211

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