Debra Furnish

Police Identify Slain Woman Found Nude Beneath Overpass

Family Members Confirm Victim's Identity

POSTED: 6:35 am EST December 28, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS -- The identity of a woman whose nude body was found tossed over a chain link fence and into a gutter beneath an Interstate 65 overpass Thursday morning has been released.

Indianapolis Metro police said the family of Debra Furnish, 48, identified her at the Marion County Coroner's Office late Thursday.

An autopsy Friday determined that Furnish was a homicide victim, but further information was not immediately released.

Police did not release details of what led them to be able to identify Furnish, who lived downtown, near where her body was found.  Furnish's body had been thrown over a three-foot chain link fence at 12th Street and Central Avenue.

Two men found the body at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday and notified a man who lives nearby.  "Some black people stopped me and said that there is a nude, white female under the underpass," the caller told a 911 dispatcher.  The body was lying next to a sidewalk that runs along Central Avenue.

"As soon as we get her identified, that will help us a lot more with talking to people that may know her," IMPD Detective Bob Flack said Thursday.

Police ran the woman's fingerprints and determined that she did not have a criminal history in Marion County.

Authorities released two pictures of tattoos on the woman's body in hopes that someone would recognize them.  Investigators said early Thursday that they think the woman died elsewhere and that her body was dumped beneath the underpass.

According to IMPD, dark tire tracks were evident on the sidewalk near where the body was found, but they were not sure if that discovery was relevant to the case.  Police said they found no apparent signs of trauma before they removed the body.

Traffic was blocked at the underpass for several hours as investigators scoured the scene in search of clues. Residents said the body's discovery worries them about what is going on in the neighborhood.

"This is big time for something down here," said Dan Conn. "It's a relatively nice neighborhood, but things happen everywhere."


Indianapolis - Police have arrested a suspect for the murder of a woman found naked under a downtown overpass.

34-year-old Derek Martin was arrested Saturday on charges of murder and confinement in the death of a 48-year-old Debra Furnish. Her body was discovered Thursday under I-65 near 12th Street and Central Avenue. Investigators say he has a prior murder conviction.

Around 8:30 Thursday morning, a 911 operator received a call about a discovery made under the interstate overpass. The caller told the operator that two people had come to his door told him "there was a nude, white female under the overpass."

The body was found inside a fenced area below I-65. A neighbor, the one who phoned it in, called it "kind of shocking, but things happen."

"We don't have a cause or a manner of death or anything right now, but circumstances indicate it was probably not a natural death," said IMPD Sergeant Paul Thompson.

Another neighbor near 12th and Central said "I thought it was just terrible."

The naked victim probably died somewhere else. Police found no clothes at the scene. They did release photos of an eagle tattoo found on on the back of her shoulder, on the left side. There was also a second tattoo, a "tribal band" found on her upper right arm.

The information on the tattoos was released in hopes that someone might be able to identify the body. Shortly before midnight, IMPD issued a release saying the body had been identified. They say Ms. Furnish lived in the downtown area not far from where her body was found.

Just feet from where they found the body police found something else, possibly an important piece of evidence. Crime Lab technicians lifted impressions of heavy duty truck tires from the sidewalk. The truck that made them has double wheels on each side of the rear axle. Now they want to know if the truck jumped the curb to off-load the body.

"I've been here seven years and I've never seen anything as devastating as that," one neighbor told Eyewitness News.

The Old Northside Neighborhood is seeing a renaissance. Urban decay, evident less than ten years ago, has given way to restored, historic homes, well tended yards, and folks who walk their sidewalks and watch out for their neighbors.

"It's sad what happened to her, but I think our neighborhood is pretty safe," said one neighbor.

Another said "it's sad to see, especially at this time of year, that happen to someone. It's a relatively safe neighborhood. It's changed through the years but it's a fairly nice neighborhood now."


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