Last updated: February 12. 2014 4:08PM - 7269 Views
By Sanford Schmidt sschmidt@civitasmedia.com



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EDWARDSVILLE — The death of a woman whose body was found in a U-Haul van in South Roxana is being investigated as a drug-induced homicide, possibly in Alton, court papers filed Tuesday revealed.


“The information/evidence sought in this application for search warrant is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by the Alton Police Department,” the court document states.


The sworn statement by a South Roxana police officer claims the female “passed out” at the wheel in the front of the van is known as Frances Milton, who gave the name Frances Regan when she rented the van in East Alton. She is being called Frances Milton, as far as the investigation by the Madison County Coroner’s Office.


An obituary in The Telegraph identified a Frances (Milton) Ragan, 42, of East Alton, formerly of Granite City.


The identity of the victim was discovered after police contacted U-Haul headquarters and were told that the van was rented from the East Alton facility.


The investigation, so far, has revealed that the deceased woman was in the company of another woman, wearing a yellow “hoodie,” when they entered the East Alton U-Haul facility. The two women were seen on a surveillance recording at the facility.


“He (the employee at the U-Haul facility) was able to observe a dark-haired female with a black jacket and a pink shirt. He identified the female as the “Frances Regan” who rented the van,” the document stated.


He told officers she mentioned that she needed to move to an address in Granite City.


The sworn statement claims the two entered the U-Haul office on Feb. 4, Regan provided a driver’s license number, but a later computer check reveal no information about a Frances Regan or the license number. The worker at the U-Haul office recalled that the two women were arguing on whether they were going to rent a vehicle or not.


The original rental period was for Feb. 4-Feb. 5, but “Regan” called and asked to extend the period one day, which the office worker allowed.


The body was discovered after a manager of the Dollar General Store, 405 Broadway, South Roxana, called police on Feb. 8, reported that the van had been parked at the store since Feb. 6 and that a woman appeared to be “passed out” in the front seat.


Officers arrived and determined that the woman was dead.


An autopsy did not reveal any signs of trauma. The coroner’s office is awaiting results of lab tests.


Investigators also found a cell phone in the deceased woman’s clothing. The court document was filed in an effort to obtain information from the cell phone. Investigators may learn about the woman’s location, once they obtain the information from the cell phone provider.


Sanford J. Schmidt can be reached at 618-463-2558 or Twitter @sanfordjschmidt.

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