Dead woman identified as Reno transient |

Dead woman identified as Reno transient

David Bunker
Josh Miller / Tribune News Service / Lois Wassen, of the Truckee Police Department, distributes fliers to motorists on Tuesday morning at the Northwoods and Northwoods intersection in Tahoe Donner, near where a female body was found inside a duffel bag on Monday afternoon.

TRUCKEE – Police here are puzzled by the death of a 54-year-old transient woman from Reno who was found wrapped in a blanket and rope and crammed into a duffel back left in a parking lot Monday.

An autopsy on the victim has provided little new information on how she died. Police investigators said they used fingerprints to identify Cynthia Dee Erler. She also used a number of other last names during the past 15 years she apparently lived on the streets of Reno, including Farr, Farrar, Faustion and Keck.

“There are no obvious signs of trauma to the body,” said Truckee police Lt. Dan Johnston. “There are no obvious signs of death.”

Reno police said Erler was arrested numerous times over the years in Reno, the most recent in November on a charge of public intoxication.

The St. Vincent’s Food Pantry in Reno has records of her picking up food once a month for the past seven months.

The woman lived on the streets of Reno and in low-budget hotels in the city for at least the last 15 years. She had no ties to the Truckee area, Johnston said.

Toxicology reports, which could take weeks to finalize, will determine if drugs or poison were involved in her death. The woman had a medical history that police would not divulge.

Truckee police are in Reno questioning her friends. Her relatives, who live in Central California, are being tracked down so they can be notified of the death.

“Our plans are to attempt to locate where she might have died, how she might have died, and who was involved with … placing her body into a fairly small bag and bringing her up into this area,” said Johnston.

Police said the woman’s body was not treated well after she died. Although small, approximately 5 feet, 4 inches tall and just over 100 pounds, the woman’s body had to be manipulated to fit inside the duffel bag.

“The bag is smaller than she would be standing up and she was placed in that bag,” said Johnston.

Truckee officials, who initially believed the death was a murder, are now uncertain of the cause of death after the autopsy reports came out.

“We know that she died. We don’t have any indications that it was as a result of a homicide at this time,” said Johnston. “It very easily could have been. It is not natural to put somebody in a bag like that.”

No eyewitnesses have come forward, but the police are busy following up on about 250 tips that have come in.

The Northwoods Clubhouse, where the body was discovered by four golfers returning from a Reno golf game, appears to be a “random location” for the body to be dumped, police said

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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