Body of woman found dead in car ID’d

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Mount Clemens — Investigators have identified the body of a woman found dead early Friday morning in the backseat of a blood-soaked car in Harrison Township.

The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office released the name of Chantal Charlotte Rea on Saturday. The 48-year-old was a resident of St. Clair Shores.

A 36-year-old man is in custody after Rea’s body was found in a car parked down the street from his Harrison Township home, according to the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office said investigators will meet with county prosecutors on Monday to present the findings of their investigation.

Rea was discovered around 7:50 a.m. on the 39400 block of Cloverleaf in a car parked partially on a lawn about eight houses down from the suspect’s home, Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said.

A cause of death has not yet been released.

“We’re working with the medical examiner’s office,” Wickersham said.

Officials did not release the suspect’s name Friday because he has not yet been charged with a crime.

The sheriff’s office also said late Friday that detectives were still working to clarify the relationship between the victim and the suspect.

The grisly discovery came after authorities said the woman fled a domestic violence incident around 11:30 p.m. at the suspect’s nearby home.

“We received a 911 call from a homeowner on Cloverleaf indicating that there may have been some type of argument,” Wickersham said of the Thursday night incident.

The caller, who lives across the street from the suspect, told dispatchers the woman was attempting to drive away but appeared intoxicated. The witness lost sight of the car as it traveled away from the home, toward South River Road.

The man returned to his house after the woman drove away, according to the 911 caller, Wickersham said.

It remained unclear Friday if the victim was intoxicated or had injuries that caused her to drive erratically. It also is possible the suspect was intoxicated during the Thursday night argument, Wickersham added.

“A deputy (responded and) checked in and around the area but was unable to find the vehicle,” Wickersham said.

Early Friday, another homeowner discovered the car, a silver 2003 Buick Century, and dialed 911.

“There appeared to be a deceased person in the backseat of that car,” Wickersham said of the resident’s report. “And there was a large amount of blood in the front of the vehicle and the back of the vehicle.”

Officials have not yet determined how the woman got from the driver’s seat to the backseat, Wickersham said.

“We have theories but we’re not ready to confirm anything,” he said.

Deputies quickly linked the car to Thursday night’s 911 call, Wickersham said. The man refused to open the door but raised his arms in surrender when deputies forced entry into the building.

“He is currently here at the sheriff’s office and we are interviewing him at this point. We’re trying to ascertain what happened,” Wickersham said. “We’re confident that we have the person who may be involved in (the victim’s) demise.”

Officials believe evidence found in a driveway on Cloverleaf links the suspect to his alleged victim, who were believed to be dating, Wickersham said. His office plans to present a case to the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office “in the next day or two.”

Police believe the woman was fatally injured inside the suspect’s home before attempting to escape in her car.

No one else is suspected in the woman’s death, Wickersham said, but officials are looking for individuals the suspect may have called after Thursday night’s incident.

“We’re looking for them to see what he may have said to them,” the sheriff said.

hfournier@detroitnews.com

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@HollyPFournier