published Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Remains found in Chattanooga home identified as 25-year-old Erika Whaley

  • photo
    Erika Whaley, 25, who had been missing since September, was found dead inside a Chattanooga home.
    Contributed Photo

After five months of searching for Erika Whaley, family members are starting to plan her funeral.

On Wednesday, officials confirmed that remains found inside a Chattanooga home belonged to the 25-year-old woman who was last seen in September.

Whaley's sister, Sandra Lowrance, spent Wednesday afternoon picking out photos for a slide show and selecting songs that will be played at Whaley's funeral Friday.

"We're going to play 'When I Get Where I'm Going' by Brad Paisley," said Lowrance. "It was one of her favorites. We'd drive down the road singing it. I would sing one part and she would sing the other."

Whaley's body was found Sunday inside a vacant home that belonged to Whaley's late grandfather.

The Hamilton County Medical Examiner's Office will not be releasing the cause of Whaley's death until toxicology and tissue samples are completed, but the office told Whaley's family there were no signs of trauma or foul play.

Whaley was last seen Sept. 15, getting into a red pickup truck at a domestic violence shelter.

Her family did not report her missing to Chattanooga police until Dec. 18, saying they delayed making the call because Whaley had gone missing before and had a history of drug use.

Whaley's four children -- who are in the custody of the children's relatives -- have all been notified of their mother's death, Lowrance said.

"They told the kids that the mommy was sick, that she went to be with Jesus and she'll always watch over them."

Because Whaley did not have life insurance, a funeral donation fund has been set up for her, Lowrance said.

Those wishing to donate may go to any Regions Bank and ask to contribute to the Erika Whaley Funeral Fund, which has been classified as a North Georgia account.

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