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Identity confirmed in Tuesday car death

Friday, February 25, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:50 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The identity of a woman who was found dead after a Tuesday evening car explosion was discovered through dental records on Thursday.

Columbia resident Autumn J. Cox, 41, lit her Jeep Grand Cherokee on fire and crashed it into a utility pole to take her own life in the 1100 block of Pannell Street on Tuesday, fire officials said Wednesday.

According to a press release from Battalion Chief Steven Sapp of the Columbia Fire Department, fire and police investigators, aided by the Boone County Medical Examiners Office, have officially ruled the death a suicide.

Lt. Eric Hartman said Cox had a history of psychotic episodes, but he would not elaborate.

Fire department investigators are interviewing witnesses again to confirm their information, Hartman said Thursday.

The department continues to investigate the events leading up to the fire and the accident, Hartman said.

The fire department sent samples from the Jeep to the Missouri State Highway Patrol for testing. Hartman said investigators are hoping for trace evidence of any accelerants Cox used.

“We’re thinking gasoline, but we need to wait for the lab reports,” Hartman said, adding that it could take one to six months to get the reports.

Cox’s family was notified Thursday afternoon, and her body was released.

The family is planning services for next week, Hartman said.


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