WINDBER – The body found Monday in the Mine 40 neighborhood has been confirmed as a local woman who went missing a week earlier, a forensic autopsy revealed.
CT scans taken before and after 51-year-old Wendy S. Wright's death were used to verify her identity – a step that had been complicated by the fact the woman's body was already in the advanced stages of decomposition when she was discovered Monday, Cambria County Coroner Jeff Lees said.
"We were able to positively ID her through X-ray imaging of her nasal cavity ... because she also had a previous CT scan sometime before she died," Lees said, adding that the tests yields scan results that are much like a unique fingerprint.
Lees is still working to determine the cause of Wright's death but confirmed it's no longer viewed as suspicious.
There's no indication of trauma or foul play, he added, saying Wednesday's autopsy results ruled out both possibilities.
Wright went missing July 29 and authorities said she was last spotted traveling from the Windber area on foot wearing a dark shirt and sweatpants.
A search team and police K9 discovered Wright's body at approximately 5:20 p.m. Monday in a wooded area near Richland Avenue in Scalp Level's Mine 40 neighborhood, Lees said.
Wright was just a few blocks from her home and was wearing clothes that matched her missing person report, he added.
"But in our business, we can't assume anything. When there's issues identifying someone ... we have to use scientific means," Lees said.
The coroner said he has remained in contact with Wright's grieving family since Monday keeping them up-to-date on ongoing findings.
Despite their difficult loss, he said he hopes the verification will allow them to begin to heal.
"Hopefully, this will give them some closure," Lees said.
Lees said his office has also contacted Windber Borough police, which had been working with other local agencies to continue searching for Wright over the past week.