BURLINGTON — Investigators believe they have recovered the remains of a woman they say was "dumpster diving" when the contents were collected before she escaped from the metal bin.
Stephanie Cox, 30, of Burlington is believed to have died in the Jan. 30 incident at the Alamance Crossing shopping center at 1477 Boone Station Drive, authorities said. Her remains were likely taken to the processing center at Uwharrie Environmental in Montgomery County and authorities focused their search there, according to a news release from Burlington police.
About 5 p.m. Monday, searchers found what they believe are Cox's remains, according to the release.
The Montgomery County Sheriffs Office will work with the local medical examiner and the State’s Medical Examiners Office to positively identify the remains, according to the release.
Poor weather conditions had hampered search efforts since Thursday, police said, but searchers began again Monday morning.
Cox's family told police that it was not uncommon for Cox to collect items from local dumpsters. She was reported missing to the Greensboro Police Department at 7:58 p.m. Jan. 30. Family members told authorities that she was last seen in Greensboro.
A GoFundMe page has been launched to help pay for Cox's funeral expenses. The page describes Stephanie as a wonderful person. "She had the best sense of humor & was always there with positive encouragement when her friends needed her," it reads.
Video evidence shows that Cox arrived at the Five Below alone Jan. 30 and police believe she was collecting items from a dumpster shortly after midnight that day. Police do not believe there was foul play. Authorities said no one else appears on the property in any of the video they reviewed, until a truck arrives to service the dumpster at 1:47 a.m.
At 12:30 p.m. that day, Cox's vehicle was reported to police as unattended in a service drive behind a row of businesses at the shopping center. Burlington police officers checked the vehicle to determine if it was reported stolen, but found that it was not. Cox had not yet been reported as missing.
"This case brings to light the dangers associated with collections from dumpsters," police said in the release. "The commonly known practice of 'dumpster diving' is not safe."