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Woman's body discovered after car towed

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Carolyn Ann Watkins Carolyn Ann Watkins
Carolyn Ann Watkins' car was found in a ravine off Swift Creek Road by the State Highway Patrol and then towed. Carolyn Ann Watkins' car was found in a ravine off Swift Creek Road by the State Highway Patrol and then towed.
SMITHFIELD, N.C. -

The family of a 62-year-old Johnston County woman is upset after the woman's car was towed – with her body unnoticed in the front - and a State Highway Patrolman has been placed on administrative duty after the incident.

Tricia Parker, daughter-in-law of Carolyn Ann Watkins, said Tuesday that Watkins' car was found in a ravine off Swift Creek Road by the State Highway Patrol and then towed. Her body was not discovered at the time, Parker said.

Parker said Watkins' deceased body was found in the car at the tow yard on Monday.

Al Parker, her son, said, "I called her on the phone five or six times and could not get up with her."

Her family said she went missing over Easter weekend. When she didn't show up for work at Wendy's on Monday, they filed a missing persons report.

"So we knew something really terrible was wrong," Tricia Parker said.

Trooper M.D. Williams has been placed on administrative duty with pay. Williams is a nine-year veteran and is based in Smithfield.

Al Parker said both air bags had deployed in the car, which should have been a clue that someone might be in the car.

And Tricia Parker said, "When they towed the car, they didn't look inside the car. They just towed the car."

"She had valid tags on the car," Al Parker said, "so if you ran the tags it would have automatically popped up her address. But they didn't do any of that."

Her family wonders if she was still living at the time.

"She could've been living when she had that accident and if they would've done what they're supposed to, she could've been alive today."

In a statement Tuesday, Commissioner Frank Perry of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety said, "First and foremost, we offer our most sincere condolences to Carolyn Watkins' family.
This is a multi-jurisdictional investigation and has the full attention of the Department of Public Safety administration.

"We will release accurate information to the public as soon as available and appropriate. At this early stage, our main concern is to conduct a thorough and professional investigation so we can determine exactly what happened. In addition, DPS is expeditiously conducting its internal review with the SBI."

WNCN reporter Charlotte Huffman contributed to this report.

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