published Monday, January 16th, 2012

Body found at a Chattanooga home could be missing woman Erika Whaley


by Naomi Jagoda
A body believed to be that of missing 25-year-old Erika Whaley is removed Sunday afternoon from a house at 2822 Ocoee St. in Chattanooga.
A body believed to be that of missing 25-year-old Erika Whaley is removed Sunday afternoon from a house at 2822 Ocoee St. in Chattanooga.
Photo by John Rawlston.
  • photo
    Investigators with the Chattanooga Police Department's Missing Persons Unit are seeking help in locating 25 year-old Erika Whaley. She is 4'11" tall, 115 lbs, and is missing from the local Chattanooga area. Erika has been missing since August, 2011 and was last seen getting into a red truck at a shelter for battered women. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Erika Whaley are asked to call the Chattanooga Police Department at 423-698-2525.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A body found Sunday afternoon at a Chattanooga house may be that of a woman who's been missing since September, police said.

Erika Whaley, 25, was last seen Sept. 15 getting into a red truck leaving a shelter for battered women, Chattanooga police spokesman Nathan Hartwig said. She wasn't reported missing to police until December.

Police received a "very recent" tip that Whaley might be on Ocoee Street. Whaley's family then told police that her grandfather, who died last year, had lived at 2822 Ocoee St., Hartwig said.

Investigators arrived at the house about 1:15 p.m. Sunday and found a body inside. The house had been boarded up since March 2011, Hartwig said.

The body was decomposed, and Hartwig could not confirm that it was Whaley but said there's a high probability it is her.

The Chattanooga Police Department's major crimes and crime scene units are investigating, though the cause of death is undetermined, Hartwig said. The body has been taken to the medical examiner's office, he said, and an autopsy will be performed.

Whaley is the mother of four boys ages 3 to 7, WRCB-TV Channel 3 reported. The TV station reported Saturday that Whaley's mother and sister were concerned about her disappearance and wanted to hear from her.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press could not locate Whaley's mother and sister Sunday after police announced the body's discovery.

Simone Moreland, 22, whose property backs up onto Ocoee Street, was surprised that a body was found in the Missionary Ridge neighborhood she has lived in her entire life. The only incident she could recall occurring in the area was a robbery.

"Nothing ever happens around here," she said.

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