Investigators said this week they found a body believed to be that of Marilane Carter, a pastor’s wife and mother of three who went missing at the beginning of August.
Carter, who was married to Adam Carter, pastor of Leawood Baptist Church, was last seen Aug. 3 while on her way to Birmingham, Alabama, to visit her sister, who is due to have a baby soon, and seek treatment for mental health issues.
Authorities believe Carter died from asphyxiation due to carbon monoxide poisoning, WDAF-TV reported. Her vehicle was found inside a shipping container with the ignition turned on.
“Information gathered from family members concerning her mental and emotional state during her final communications along with facts gathered from the scene have led investigators to believe that Marilane Carter drove the vehicle into the container and in doing so caused her demise,” read a statement released Wednesday by the Crittenden County Sheriff’s Office.
Carter left her home in Overland Park on Aug. 1 at around 8:15 p.m. and began driving toward Birmingham. Initially, she purchased a Southwest Airlines ticket to the Alabama city, but when she awoke from a nap, the pastor’s wife decided instead to drive.
Blake Larsen, the lead detective on the case, said early on that detail could “give a view into her mindset.”
From there, investigators were able to track her via credit card activity and mobile phone data. She first stopped at a McDonald’s in Missouri. Then, early in the morning on Aug. 3, Carter checked into a Quality Inn in West Plains, where she stayed for only about three hours.
Carter continued on her own after leaving the hotel. She was last seen in West Memphis, Arkansas, where a woman said she helped the pastor’s wife pump gas. After that, Carter was seen going into the bathroom, wearing a white T-shirt, black yoga pants, and carrying a backpack.
After that, though, the trail went cold — a detail police described as “strange.”
Marilane’s brother-in-law, Paul, posted to Facebook that his sister-in-law had been considering seeking psychiatric help prior to her disappearance.
Over the weekend, family members traveled to West Memphis to help law enforcement officer search along the Mississippi River. After a while, the whole family, minus one of Carter’s uncles, returned home.
The uncle was driving through and walking around the area where Carter’s phone last registered a location. Eventually, he came across three big shipping containers in a field. The door to one of the containers was open, and that’s where he found Carter’s vehicle and her body.
One of Carter’s other brothers-in-law, Brady McLaughlin, described her during an interview with KWCH-TV as a gracious person.
“She loves people,” he said. “She loves her family. She loves God.”
Please keep the Carter family in your prayers.