BETHANY — The body found in a duffel bag behind a Homeland store is a missing Oklahoma City woman.
Carina B. Saunders, 19, was identified using dental records Monday afternoon, Bethany Police Chief Phil Cole said.
Saunders was reported missing to Oklahoma City police Sept. 28. She was last seen alive near NW 41 and MacArthur Boulevard on Oct. 8 or 9, Cole said.
A cause of death was not released Monday by the state medical examiner's office, nor had a suspect been named.
Bethany police had gone through missing person records and given the records on at least one missing person to the medical examiner.
A woman who answered Saunders' mother's telephone Monday evening identified herself as an aunt. She said the family was not doing interviews.
Posted on the “Carina Come Home” Facebook page was “Carina's father and I need to inform all of you that Carina has gone home to be with her Lord and Savior. We wanted to let everyone close to her know before you found out on the news. Thank you so much for all your prayers, and love and support. Please keep them coming as our family is going through this time of trial.”
In the choir
Emily Julum said she was in varsity choir with Saunders at Mustang High School for two years. Julum, 20, graduated in 2009, and Saunders was a year behind her.
“She was talented, she was beautiful, and she wasn't afraid to speak her mind,” Julum said.
“We were in varsity choir together and everyone in our varsity choir was so closely knit. We traveled so much, and that's probably why we were so close. We were always around each other. It was so much fun,” Julum said.
Saunders was a soprano and Julum was an alto, so while they may have been at opposite ends of the stage, they gravitated toward each other during breaks, she said.
“She was really cool and laid back. She was so nice, but she was so tough at the same time,” Julum said.
“She's had some tough things go on in her life, but she was really positive about everything,” she said.
“Nobody had been able to get a hold of her for a while, but nobody expects this to happen to anyone they know,” Julum said.
Melissa Wagner, 19, said she's known Saunders since middle school, and she was also in varsity choir with her.
“We were close all through high school. There was a group of about six or seven of us that were best friends, attached at the hip. We did everything together. There were hundreds of nights spent together,” Wagner said.
She last saw Saunders on Sept. 17 at a baby shower for a mutual friend.
“Carina was a beautiful, ambitious person. She lit up the room when she walked in,” Wagner said.
“She was an amazing singer. She could be a professional opera singer. She had the most beautiful, mature voice,” she said.
“And she was brilliant. She graduated a semester early because she was so smart,” Wagner said.
Wagner and other mutual friends of Saunders gathered Monday night.
Aimiee Jordan, 19, set up a “Carina Come Home” Facebook page.
“Anytime she came over, there was some kind of inside joke. She could always make you laugh,” Jordan said.
“We're going to miss her, but we'll never forget her. All of our memories will be locked away tightly forever. We love her so much,” said Jessica Reynolds, 20.
Saunders' body was found in a field behind the Homeland at NW 23 and Rockwell.
Animal welfare volunteers managing a feral cat colony in the field found the duffel bag Thursday morning and called police. The first officer on the scene unzipped the bag slightly and discovered it contained a body.
Bethany police, along with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Oklahoma City police homicide detectives and the FBI are investigating the case.