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UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Norwalk woman expected victim

Joe Centers • Jul 7, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Authorities believe a body found in a van consumed with flames on Lovers Lane early Sunday morning is that of a 33-year-old Norwalk woman, who apparently committed suicide, Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.

The owner of the van, Roberta L. Vick, 17 E. Willard Ave., hadn’t been seen in about a day, he added.

Sigsworth said investigators located a license plate in the debris, and learned the vehicle’ owner’s identity.

Sigsworth said while authorities believe the person, who has yet to be identified, committed suicide, Erie County Coroner Dr. Brian Baxter will rule on the official cause of death —  a process Sigsworth said “will take some time.”

Sigsworth said deputies called the Norwalk Police Department, who contacted the suspected victim’s parents. Authorities were granted permission to search the home and found a suicide note on a living room table.

The “very detailed” note  contained “some indication that she intended to kill herself and how she intended to do that,” Sigsworth said.

“It’s consistent with what we found on Lovers Lane,” he added.

When asked about a possible motive, Sigsworth said the note referred to “personal issues.” Sigsworth said NPD records indicate the woman has made prior suicide attempts within the last nine months.

The body will be sent to the Lucas County Coroner’s office in Toledo for an autopsy.

The Huron County Sheriff’s office received a 9-1-1 call at about 6 a.m. Sunday from a passing motorist who reported a vehicle on fire in the Milan state wildlife area. Firefighters from the Huron River Joint Fire District and Milan Township Fire Department responded. It was then determined the incident happened in Erie County.

Erie County Sheriff’s deputies responded. Sigsworth said initial signs pointed to a homicide — the body was in the back of the Ford Windstar minivan, the vehicle was “completely consumed” and the license plates weren’t visible. Sigsworth added that based on the level of heat and comments from the first people on the scene, that an accelerant might have been used.

Sigsworth said officials from the state fire marshall’s office, who responded, will send samples of debris found to the state arson lab. Technicians there will try to determine if traces of an accelerant are present.

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