Woman’s body discovered in vacant apartment, family fears worst

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Lafayette police are investigating Tuesday after a woman’s body is discovered in a vacant apartment on the city’s south side. While an official identification has not been made, family members say the woman is Kelly Thornton who had been missing since Friday, July 4.

“She’s just been a daughter that I loved with all my heart. When I found out this morning, it was ‘Oh god, why not take me before her?'” said Thornton’s father Napoleon Johnson.

Johnson and Thornton’s mother Yvette Johnson were part of the family members who expressed an outpouring of pain and grief Tuesday afternoon.

“Oh my god, they’ve taken my baby,” cried Yvette as she looked at a picture of Thornton.

Police were called around 3 p.m. after a maintenance man found the body of an African American woman in a vacant apartment in the Sun Villa Apartments on the 2500 block of Eckman Drive, near Poland Hill Road.

While officers are waiting on the coroner to provide official identification, Napoleon told News 18 the woman was Thornton.

“Without a doubt, without a doubt,” he said.

Thornton was a 34-year-old mother of three teenage boys and a two-year-old girl. She was a graduate of Crawfordsville High School.

“She was a fun, happy-go-lucky girl,” said Napoleon. “She was always my big girl.”

Thornton lived in a nearby apartment.

A missing person’s report was filed Monday night, prompting a police investigation which included the search of all vacant apartments in the complex. She was last seen four days earlier on July 4.

“There’s a good indication that it has been there for a couple of days. An exact time is unknown at this point in time,” said LPD Det. Sgt. Brian Phillips.

The family believes Thornton was in the apartment Friday night with another man and woman when she overdosed on heroin. Perhaps most upsetting to them is if either person had called 911, she may still be alive. Also, the man they believe was involved was interviewed by police Tuesday but not arrested, leading to some outbursts at police in the parking lot.

“That never should have happened to my daughter, to be left alone like that instead of calling the police,” said Napoleon.

Phillips said detectives are continuing to investigate and question a number of people.

“There were a lot of interviews that we conducted today. I can’t speak for the family members and what they are feeling right now. It’s a very difficult time for them. Emotions are running high,” said Phillips.

Napoleon believes his daughter wasn’t a regular heroin user, but may have gotten involved with the wrong crowd. He also believes that while no one was arrested Tuesday, police will do their job and hold someone accountable.

“Yeah, I’m sure they will do the right thing in the end. I’m confident, I’m very confident,” he said.

The body is in the hands of the Tippecanoe County Coroner’s Office to make an official identification and give a cause of death.

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