Autopsy: NC woman found dead behind store was decapitated in ‘vicious’ murder

North Carolina news

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – A recently released autopsy report shows a Charlotte woman found dead on Freedom Drive in 2019 was decapitated in what police previously described as a “vicious” and “brutal” murder.

Police say 61-year-old Jennifer Ann Banner was killed in October 2019. Banner was found in the 3100-block of Freedom Drive.

According to the State Medical Examiner’s report, Banner was found wrapped in a blanket and tarp, secured with an electrical cord behind a retail store on Oct. 16, 2019.

Store employees took notice the morning of Oct. 15, but believed it was just trash. When it was there the next day, an employee took a closer look and called police, believing it was a body. The employees say that the body was not present when they closed the store at 7 p.m. on Oct. 14.

The autopsy report states that the woman was decapitated “due to numerous sharp-force neck injuries.”

The head was entirely absent at the time of autopsy.

According to Capt. Dance with CMPD’s Violent Crimes division, the murder happened somewhere else and Banner’s body was dumped in the parking lot of the shopping center.

According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, toxicology reports show that Banner had alcohol in her system at the time of the murder and “a metabolite of cocaine.”

It has not been determined if decapitation was the cause of death, or if she was already deceased at the time it happened.

“The absence of the decedent’s head at the time of autopsy precludes ruling out the possibility of fatal head injuries prior to decapitation,” the report reads.

The Medical Examiner says it does not appear alcohol or cocaine consumption was the cause of death, but no definitive cause can be determined at this time.

CMPD is continuing to work with regional and state law enforcement on this case.

Anyone with information is asked to call 704-432-TIPS and speak directly to Detective Penden, the lead detective on the homicide, or another Homicide Unit Detective. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

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