Authorities are investigating after finding the remains of a missing Oregon woman in the trunk of her car.
Merrilee Cooley, 68, was reported missing when a friend went to check on her in the Clackamas, Oregon, mobile home where she lived alone and found it to be in a state of disarray, KGW reports. The contents of Cooley’s purse were emptied out, and the walker and wheelchair that the woman required to get around were still inside the home. Cooley’s car and keys were missing, as well.
“It’s totally not her at all,” said Peggy Husman, who had been friends with Cooley for decades. “Somebody always knows if she’ll be gone overnight. She contacts somebody; either the gal next door, the guy across the street, she calls me and tells me what she’s going to do, something.”
“She loved people,” said Cooley’s daughter-in-law, Wendy Eilers. “Nobody was a stranger to her. She could start a conversation with anybody, and everybody was her friend.”
“We used to call her crazy Meme,” Eilers recalled, according to the The Oregonian. “She’s the grandma that got the art supplies and messy stuff.”
Eilers said that before Cooley’s disappearance, she was able to see the November championship football game for Lebanon High School, where Eiler’s husband, Bryan, works as a coach. The game was Lebanon High’s first championship.
“It was a pretty special moment for him,” said Wendy. “He was so happy that his mom was there. Definitely a good memory.”
Wendy and Bryan had visited Cooley with their children the day after Christmas. “We had a good visit with her,” said Wendy. “The kids played the [Nintendo] Wii. We just hung out.”
After Bryan’s mother was reported missing, the family began to search for her. Police found the car in an apartment complex, and then found the remains, which were later confirmed to be Cooley’s, inside of the vehicle’s trunk.
“Our thought is that somebody took advantage of her, but that’s just our guess,” said Wendy.
In a Facebook post, Wendy provided friends with updates on the search for Cooley and the investigation into her death. She thanked friends for their support and asked them to pray for her family.
“Please continue praying for our family, especially her son, Bryan, her grandkids, and all of the other kids who wake up today to find out someone has taken their Meme away,” wrote Wendy.
Sources: The Oregonian, KGW, Wendy Eilers/Facebook / Photo credit: KXL