Body found in car trunk identified as missing Clackamas woman; c - KPTV - FOX 12

Body found in car trunk identified as missing Clackamas woman; cause of death homicide

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Merrilee Cooley (Family photo/KPTV) Merrilee Cooley (Family photo/KPTV)

A Clackamas woman was killed and her body was found in the trunk of her car a week after she was reported missing, according to deputies.

The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office confirmed Monday that an autopsy had positively identified the body found in a 2010 Kia Optima parked at the Miramonte Lodge Apartments in Milwaukie on Thursday night as 68-year-old Merrilee Bonnie Cooley.

The medical examiner determined her cause of death was homicide.

No other details were immediately released.

Family members said Cooley was last seen on Dec. 26. She was reported missing on Dec. 28 under suspicious circumstances, according to deputies.

A friend told FOX 12 she went to Cooley's home on Dec. 28 and found the home somewhat disheveled. Cooley's purse was still there, along with her credit cards and identification, but her car was gone.

Milwaukie police found her Kia Optima at the apartment complex near Southeast Lark Street and Whitcomb Drive at 9:45 p.m. Thursday.

Deputies said a body found in the trunk was believed to be Cooley, but they awaited autopsy results to confirm her identification. 

Detectives are seeking tips from the public in this homicide investigation. Anyone with information about Cooley's death or her recent whereabouts is urged to contact the sheriff's office tip line at 503-723-4949 or online at and reference case 16-35366.

Neighbors described Cooley as a sweet lady who made her neighbors feel like family.

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