Body found in Detroit believed to be missing woman, family says

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Detroit police are investigating the death of a woman whose body was found on the city's east side this week.

The remains were found in a garage on the 5500 block of Drexel about 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, said Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department.

The death is being investigated as a homicide, police said. No other details were released Wednesday, and a suspect had not been arrested in connection with the case, Kirkwood said. 

Brandy Nelson

The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office was expected to identify the victim and determine the cause of death, she said. Representatives could not immediately be reached Wednesday night to confirm autopsy results.

Relatives believe the body is that of 20-year-old Brandy Nelson, who went missing last month and had been living on the same street.

Nelson was last seen about 5 p.m. Feb. 16 after leaving her home, police said in a statement Saturday. Relatives were unable to contact her.

A cousin, Carla Hardwick, said family filed a missing person report on Feb. 20 then again a week later after investigators failed to take action.

A search party that Hardwick helped organize found the body, she said. 

"I was speechless," she told The News Wednesday. "I wanted it to be a good outcome."

Hardwick said Nelson, a mother of a 6-month-old girl, had been staying at a home on Drexel with two other people but no longer wanted to be there. "She wanted help to get away from there and help never came," she said.

Loved ones held a candlelight vigil Wednesday night to honor Nelson, who was known for a bright smile and for adoring her daughter and mother, Hardwick said. "Those two were her lifeline."

As questions linger about the case, Hardwick remains hopeful a suspect will be found. "It would mean everything for us," she said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Detroit Police Department Homicide Unit at (313) 596-2260. Crime Stoppers of Michigan also accepts anonymous tips at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.