Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Woman Hanging From Tree Identified In Philadelphia, MS

Woman Hanging From Tree Identified
Friday, October 1, 2010
By Monica Land

Death Ruled A Suicide

PHILADELPHIA - Police Chief Richard Sistrunk said a woman found hanging from a tree early Saturday morning has been identified as a Vietnamese woman from Colorado Springs. Sistrunk said investigators positively identified 34-year old Donna Giao Dao using fingerprints and other information after her body was sent to the crime lab in Jackson for an autopsy.

Her death has been ruled a suicide.

Sistrunk said Dao had no other physical trauma to her body, but was hanging from a nylon rope about 20 feet in the air. She was spotted by a motorist about 6:40 a.m., Sept. 25.

Sistrunk said Dao apparently climbed a vine rope on the tree, and a pair of shoes and a hat were neatly placed at the trunk of the tree.

Dao had been working at a nail shop in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for a few months, and reportedly, she came to Mississippi to gamble. Sistrunk said Dao was considered a "loner" who moved around a lot.

"She had a job in Tuscaloosa and no one knew about it," he said. "Not even her family. Someone had heard about the death or read about it and that led us over to Alabama."

Sistrunk said Dao left several text messages to her coworkers in Alabama threatening suicide. Her car was also found nearby.

"Her family is making arrangements to get her car to Lubbock, Texas," he said. "But apparently, she wasn't married. She didn't have any children. But she had a lot of problems. Life just overwhelmed her."


Hanging Victim ID'd
Colorado Woman Here To Gamble, Police Say

Managing Editor

No foul play is suspected in the hanging death of a Colorado woman found dangling from a towering oak along a remote stretch of east Myrtle Street early Saturday morning, the authorities said.

The woman was identified as Donna Giao Dao, 34, of 4858 Diablo Valley Court, Colorado Springs, Colo., according to Philadelphia Police Chief Richard Sistrunk.

"The death was consistent with suicide," Sistrunk said an autopsy report he received Tuesday afternoon concluded.

The woman had apparently come to Neshoba County alone from Tuscaloosa, Ala., where she had been working in a nail salon, to gamble at Pearl River Resort, Sistrunk said.

Dao had apparently sent text messages to friends and relatives threatening suicide, some as late as Friday, he said.

Sistrunk was to travel to Alabama today (Wednesday) to meet with the deceased woman's employer and go through her belongings where she had been staying.

"A lady heard about the death, read about it on the Democrat's website and figured it was her," Sistrunk said. "She called me and said the woman worked for her at a nail shop in Tuscaloosa."

Investigators are trying to locate the victim's cell phone and a possible boyfriend.

"We believe she was here by herself," Sistrunk said. "We found a letter talking about her boyfriend being in a hospital somewhere."

Sistrunk met with Dao's family Tuesday afternoon in Jackson.

Dao's body was spotted by a motorist about 6:40 a.m. hanging over the ditch in a wooded area off Myrtle Street behind MetroCast Cable and East Philadelphia Baptist Church.

Police had initially linked the body to another Colorado woman after finding her driver's license in an abandoned silver Hyundai later Saturday evening in Eastgate Plaza.

Both the woman in the ID and the victim are of Asian descent with similar body frames, he said.

However, Colorado authorities located the woman whose driver's license was found inside the Hyundai.

She provided the name of the victim whom she linked to the Hyundai, Sistrunk said.

The two had worked together over the summer, he said.

Family members of the victim who live in Colorado said they had not seen Dao in over three months.

"She told them she was going to Birmingham, Ala.," Sistrunk said. "Her family said she loved to gamble. We have found out through other records that she had stayed in Las Vegas for a while."

The police chief was able to run the victim's name and other data through the Regional Organized Crime Information Center where he obtained a photograph and set of fingerprints.

Those fingerprints matched those on the body, he said.

A motorist initially spotted the body hanging from the tree and reported it to 911, saying it was in the county, Sistrunk said.

Once deputies saw that the body was inside the city limits, they dispatched police and emergency medical services.

Officers blocked Myrtle Street between Eastgate Plaza and Williamson Avenue during the initial investigation.

"Her body was hanging over the ditch about 20 feet up in the tree on a nylon rope," Sistrunk said.

After all the evidence was gathered, fire department personnel used a ladder truck to remove the body which was taken to the state crime lab by personnel from McClain-Hays Funeral Home.

Authorities found a pair of shoes and a hat placed neatly on the ground at the trunk of the tree, they said.

"There was no sign of a struggle, no disruption of the tree or the immediate area," the police chief said.

"The only way she could have gotten up the tree would be by climbing a vine rope," he said.

An employee from Clay's 16 Stop and Go in Eastgate Plaza tipped police off to the silver Hyundai.

"An employee said it had been parked there since 11 o'clock Friday night," he said.

The car, with a California license plate, was unlocked.

Investigators initially questioned people at businesses, including local nail shops as well as the casinos, and failed to find anyone who knew the woman in the photo, Sistrunk said.

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