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Woman who died in vacant store ID’d

Autopsy pending in mall mystery case

– Authorities have identified a woman found dead Wednesday in a vacant storefront in south Fort Wayne, but how she died remains a mystery.

The results of an autopsy performed on the woman – Dana M. Gersper, a 33-year-old city resident – were pending Thursday, according to the Allen County Coroner’s Office.

Gersper and another woman were found in the storefront at 4331 S. Anthony Blvd. in the Anthony Wayne Village Centre, a strip mall just south of McKinnie Avenue.

Medics pronounced Gersper dead at the scene, and they took the second woman to a hospital in serious condition. There were no obvious signs of trauma to the women, and no foul play is suspected, police said.

The Fort Wayne Police Department did not release the identity of the second woman or any other new details about the case Thursday. A phone message left for a police representative was not returned.

Why the women were in the storefront and what harmed them is still unclear. Firefighters checked for dangerous fumes and did not register any, police said.

Police officers initially came to the scene about 1:10 p.m. Wednesday after an anonymous caller told dispatchers there was a “dead body and possibly another in the lot across from Belmont Beverage” and then hung up, according to a police statement.

Believing the call came from near the Belmont Beverage at 4308 S. Anthony, across from the strip mall, officers searched the area, and in the process, checked the storefront where the women were later discovered, but officers found no one at the time, police said.

About an hour later, the owner of a business in the strip mall reported a suspicious odor coming from the storefront and that people inside needed help, police said. Emergency crews were dispatched, and they found the two women, police said.

The business owner told The Journal Gazette he rents the space where the women were found. He said the space was under renovation to become a convenience store and that he did not know why the women were there.

aingersoll@jg.net

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