COSTA MESA – A woman drove for months with a mummified body in her passenger's seat before the body was discovered by police, authorities said.
The driver of the 1997 Mercury Marquis tried to cover the decomposing corpse with pieces of clothing, but officers on Monday found it after receiving a call of an illegally parked car.
Costa Mesa police believe the body is of a transient woman from the Fountain Valley area known as Signe.
Investigators said the driver of the car had befriended the woman at a local park and allowed her to sleep in the car overnight. When the woman discovered the woman died while inside, she continued to drive the car with the body at her side, said Sgt. Ed Everett.
The driver told police she was afraid to contact police about the body, so she continued to drive the car.
The car belongs to the mother of the woman who was driving the car, Everett said. Their identities were not released.
Because of the advanced state of decomposition, officials believe the woman had been dead anywhere from three to 10 months, Everett said.
The last time the driver saw the woman alive was in December, he said.
The body was not discovered until Monday evening when police received a call about a car partially blocking a driveway in the 2000 block of Tustin Avenue.
Officers could smell a foul odor coming from the car, and after seeing a leg underneath the clothing, broke a window to get access inside.
"This person was somewhat used to the smell," Everett said.
The conditions inside the car appear to have affected the decomposition process of the body, and the body was found in a somewhat preserved and mummified state when it was discovered.
An autopsy has revealed no obvious signs of foul play, but the cause of death is still unknown, he said.
Officers are still trying to determine the identity of the woman, who is believed to have been between 50 and 60 years old.