Body may be missing woman

The body discovered Tuesday wrapped in a plastic bag in the woods was that of a middle-aged woman, b

The body discovered Tuesday wrapped in a plastic bag in the woods was that of a middle-aged woman, beheaded, and so badly decomposed that DNA tests will have to be done to determine her identity.

Albany County Coroner Timothy Cavanaugh Wednesday afternoon said there’s a “good possibility” the body could be that of Denise Hart, 45, who was last seen at 7 a.m. Nov. 11, when she left a Schenectady group home where she worked with developmentally disabled adults.

Cavanaugh said the body was missing its head, hands and feet.

But a positive identification cannot be made until DNA tests are final.

“The body has not been positively identified. We are awaiting DNA results. This could take 10 to 12 days,” he said.

For now the woman is being listed as a Jane Doe. Schenectady authorities were called in to the investigation. Police department spokesman Lt. Brian Kilcullen said the case was being checked, but offered little more.

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said it may take some time to get an answer.

“They’re looking at it,” Carney said Wednesday afternoon. “They may not know for sure until they get DNA results.”

Cavanaugh would not release the cause of death, but said it has been ruled a homicide. He said the victim had been dead for at least several months and the body was “very badly decomposed.”

Menands Police Chief Michael O’Brien said his department was meeting with a number of area police agencies as part of the investigation. “We will share with them the results of the autopsy when we have them and then we will compare them to the open cases to see if there is any possible connection.”

The body was found wrapped in plastic late Tuesday afternoon behind a multiunit apartment building at 52 Clifford Road, off Broadway near Route 378. Police received a call at 5 p.m. from a neighbor who complained of finding a possible dead animal behind the building, near the state Department of Transportation garage.

O’Brien said there are varying accounts of how long the body had been in the woods.

Residents had seen the plastic bag in the woods for a couple of months and thought it was garbage. It was found about 100 feet from the back of the apartment in an area where children often play.

Barbara Davila, who lives in the apartment complex, said her granddaughter found the bag and saw some clothes and a torso in the bag. She said she’s extremely disturbed by the finding and has had trouble sleeping.

Police said earlier that the Schenectady woman, Denise Hart, has one child, who was not living with her at the time of her disappearance. She is believed to have family in Pennsylvania.

A Denise Hart of Schenectady has been registered with the state as a licensed practical nurse since 1989.

The missing woman worked nights on Keyes Avenue in Schenectady at a group home. Co-workers called police Nov. 16 after she failed to come to work for two days.

She was described in a flier that was circulated as 5 feet, 7 inches tall, weighing 145 pounds. She lived in the Wade Lupe Apartments.

Colonie Police Department forensic investigators are assisting Menands village Police Department in the investigation.

Categories: Schenectady County

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