The family of Christina Nance is demanding answers after her body was discovered in an Alabama police van 12 days after she was reported missing.
On October 7 –– nearly two weeks after Nance was last seen –– a police officer noticed a pair of shoes outside of a prisoner-transport van parked at the Huntsville public safety complex before discovering the 29-year-old's body inside.
Police officials released surveillance footage on Friday (October 15), The Washington Post reported, showing a person who police say is Nance entering the van and moving around. What happened in the days before the officer discovered her body and why it took so long for authorities to find Nance inside of a police vehicle parked in a busy parking lot remains under investigation.
A cause of death has not been determined, though preliminary autopsy results released this week did not show signs of trauma or foul play, officials said.
Nance's family has retained nationally-known civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent them.
"We will get to the truth of what happened to Christina Nance," Crump said in a statement. "We lift up Christina's family with prayer as they mourn this devastating loss."
Nance's family was reportedly allowed to view the footage, though they said it was too poor quality to make a positive ID on their loved one.
"The video was not clear enough to indicate that that was our sister Christina Nance," Nance's sister Whitney Nance told WAFF News. "It was just very heartbreaking to know that we didn't get the clarification that we really needed, that we wanted."
Huntsville Deputy Police Chief DeWayne McCarver said the van Nance's body was found in had been out of commission since March and since it was used to transport prisoners, did not have a handle on the inside.
McCarver said, however, that officers and personnel were walking through the parking lot "continuously" but said Nance never called out for help and "unfortunately, no one was able to realize she was in that van."
"It is an accountability issue on our part," McCarver said. "That should not have happened. And now we have to look at that, and we have to make sure that we have things in place so that does not happen again."
Nance had reportedly been known to the department after receiving undisclosed resources from the department's crisis intervention team, which supports the treatment of people with mental illness.
"We've been working with the Nance family now for over a year with the needs of the family through our CIT program and our community resource officers," Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray told WAFF.
Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels has called for an independent autopsy.
"Hopefully, many of the questions raised by the community and the family of this young woman will be answered," Daniels said in a statement. "We need to fully understand what happened to Ms. Nance so that we may prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future."
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
For more mental health resources, click HERE.