Police react to family statement on missing woman found dead
COOS BAY, Ore. -- After family members of Holly Berry, the Coos Bay woman found dead earlier this month, released a statement saying they suspect foul play, the Coos Bay Police Department has responded.
In a statement sent to KCBY News, Holly Berry's parents say they believe their daughter is the victim of foul play and that she was possibly even abducted and taken to the area where police found her.
They also believe that since Berry's phone was activated five days after she died, that someone who played a role in her death used her cell phone.
Police say an autopsy confirms that she drowned.
Coos Bay police have said they found no signs of foul play in their investigation, but in a statement sent on Thursday to KCBY News, officials say that if they get any different information about that case, they would investigate.
We would like to acknowledge and thank the Coos Bay police for their untiring efforts with Holly's case. It has been complicated and difficult and we know they have done all they could. We also know that they have restrictions on what they can say about any case. Hard evidence is needed to be able to make a statement. Statements to the public about what the circumstances seem to indicate or how the situation appears to them are not allowed. However, it is okay to make a statement based on the State Medical Examiner's report, which has been done. It read, according to The World (3.18.2012), ""Based on the autopsy and a thorough scene investigation ... there was no indication Holly was the victim of violence or other criminal activity," Coos Bay police said in a statement Monday. "Instead, her death appeared to be a result of falling into a fresh water creek and drowning."" Consequently, The World headline read; "Autopsy: Drowning was an accident".
While this is still very sad and unfortunate, now the community can rest at ease not having to worry about a kidnapping murderer on the loose. Or can they? From our (and many other's) view, the circumstances indicate otherwise. Although it will be two or three months before we can expect to receive a copy of the autopsy report, we were told by the Police that the report stated the cause of death was undetermined, with a probability of fresh water drowning. What that does not say is that drowning was an accident, if drowning was the cause of death at all. The truth is the medical examiner was unable to determine the exact cause of death.
For those of us who knew Holly well, the probability that she accidentally drowned was highly unlikely. There are several reasons for this conclusion. She was seen by a very credible witness at 4:15PM, about 20-25 minutes before dark, walking east on Newmark a few hundred feet short of Walmart. She did not make to Walmart's parking lot, according to surveillance camera tapes. So, she either turned around or was picked up at that time. Had she turned around and walked the several blocks to the site where her body was found, it would have been nearly dark by the time she got there. It would alsohave been getting colder, she would have been getting hungry and would soon have been in need of taking her meds. The terrain down into the creek area was much too difficult for her to traverse and there is no way she would have gone into there at that time and by herself, (not even at high noon on a sunny day with someone else)! Holly just DOES NOT do "off-road". Add to that the fact that some of her things, which she always had with her, were missing when she was found, including her I.D. and cell phone. According to police, her cell phone was turned on five days after she went missing. Who turned that phone on and how did they come to possess it? If they were not involved in her death why did they not report her location and claim the reward that was offered? Also, why was there no scent trail from the Devereux Center, where dog teams had tracked her, to the location where she was found? This suggests to us the likelihood that she did not walk there, but was taken there at a later time.
Unfortunately, for Holly and the community, the most likely scenario was that she was abducted, kept for a period of time and then either murdered and dumped where she was found or taken there and forcibly drowned. This is not easy for us to be able to say, but for the community's sake we feel it is necessary to have the likely truth out there. Another woman could be at risk.
The Coos Bay Police Department would like to respond to the family's statements by first and foremost giving our condolences to Holly's family and friends. Holly will surely be missed however not forgotten. In addition, the Coos Bay Police Department respects the comments, concerns, and opinions made by the family. We would; however, like to add that although there are some unanswered questions fully explaining the manner in which Holly's death occurred, at no point during the investigation did we discover any evidence suggesting that Holly was the victim of a crime or violence. If in the future the Coos Bay Police Department should receive any information suggesting otherwise, we would continue our investigation.