Body found in burned out car ID’d as missing Perryopolis woman
Authorities in Fayette County have identified a body found in a burned out car as that of a Perryopolis woman who had been missing since Wednesday.
State police Trooper Robert Broadwater confirmed Monday that the body found Friday in the burned Pontiac Grand Am over a hill along French Island Road in rural Perry Township was that of Caroline Branthoover, 74.
The cause and nature of the death have yet to be determined, according to Deputy Fayette County Coroner Jessie Camilli.
Broadwater said investigators don’t suspect foul play but aren’t ruling it out. “The investigation is still ongoing to see how she ended up down there,” he said, noting police are “leaning toward an unfortunate accident.”
A positive identification was achieved by matching the serial numbers on a pin that had been used in hip surgery Branthoover underwent, Broadwater said.
Branthoover’s granddaughter, Haley, said in a Facebook post that her grandmother had last been seen about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, leaving the Junction Tavern in Star Junction, and that she was driving a red Grand Am.
The car was found no more than three miles away, according to Broadwater.
Relatives also reported that Branthoover was oxygen dependent and had memory issues.
In a Monday post, Haley Branthoover thanked “everyone who helped us search and prayed for my grandmother. Thank you for coming together as a community and thank you to people who didn’t even know her that cared so much.”
Visitation for friends and family of Caroline Branthoover will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the James C. Stump Funeral Home, 580 Circle Drive, Rostraver, with a service immediately following. Her survivors include a son, two granddaughters and numerous nieces and nephews, according to an obituary on the funeral home’s website.