Autopsy findings change case of missing Clio woman found dead

Published: Feb. 19, 2014 at 9:34 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 17, 2014 at 2:27 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BARBOUR CO., AL (WSFA) - Authorities say a Barbour County woman who had been missing for two months died from internal injuries after a car accident and foul play is no longer suspected in the case.

Search teams found the body of Receeta Kennedy on Saturday on the same road where she crashed her car weeks before.

The discovery was made by members of different law enforcement agencies and volunteers who came together in an effort to uncover new evidence in the stalled missing persons case.

Receeta Kennedy, 29, left her home in Clio Dec. 10 and when she didn't come back her husband reported her missing the next day. He told authorities he didn't know where his wife was going when she left their house.

Then, on Thursday, Dec. 12, her car was found on Alto Springs Road several miles from her home south of Clio. The vehicle was overturned with blood inside and was 20 yards from the road down an embankment. The family dog was in the car but Receeta was nowhere to be found.

"No one has seen or heard from her nor has there been any activity on her bank accounts or phone records. We're very concerned about her whereabouts. We do suspect foul play," said Clio Police Chief Richard Johnson last week.

Canine units, helicopters, and search and rescue teams tried to locate her and family members combed the area for weeks to no avail. Tips and leads ran into dead ends, all as her loved ones wondered about what happened to Receeta and waited for any developments.

"She has a very nice personality. She doesn't mind helping anyone and that might have been her biggest problem. She could have been helping someone and something happened to her. I want answers. She's my daughter and I love her," said her father, Daniel Kennedy.

"You don't know what to expect. You don't know whether she's dead or alive. You only want to think the best but it's been a while and we haven't heard anything from Receeta at all so it's just mind boggling," her mother, Sherry Kennedy, told WSFA. "We just want Receeta home. We just want our daughter home."

The massive search effort Saturday gave the Kennedy family the answers they were looking for.

Search teams gathered in downtown Clio early Saturday to search for Receeta. They focused their attention near her Clio home, along Highway 51 South and in the area where her car was found in the Doster community.

Only a few hours into the search came news that a body had been found matching the clothing description of what Receeta was wearing when she went missing, Chief Johnson informed WSFA.

The body was located in a mudded area down an embankment off of Alto Shipman Road about a half mile from where Receeta's overturned car was located the day after she was reported missing.

Police were treating the case as a homicide as they piece together what happened to Receeta after she pulled out of her driveway that night and ended up losing her life.

But on Tuesday, Chief Johnson said that an autopsy done by the state medical examiner showed that Receeta died from internal bleeding from the injuries she sustained in the car crash on Alto Shipman Road. According to the autopsy results, there were no obvious signs of foul play and Kennedy died of natural causes.

Officials say Receeta was deceased when she collapsed about 500 yards from her car shortly after the accident. Chief Johnson said it's possible she was trying to find help. Her husband said she dropped her cell phone in their yard before she left so she did not have a way to call for assistance.

Police say there are still some unanswered questions in the case which they are following up on, like when the accident happened from the time she left her house to the time the overturned car was discovered.

"The whole point of everything, the end result of everything was to find to her. We find her. Whatever happened, happened. That's irrelevant now. We have her and have closure," said Kennedy's sister, Kelli Jones. "I would give anything to have my sister back just for a moment. She called me the day before and I didn't answer. Be sure to tell everybody that you deal with and you care about on a daily basis that you love them."

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.