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Missing mother's body found in Camden, New Jersey

By Chris Reinolds Kozelle, CNN
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Missing mom's body found
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jenna Lord, 23, of Pennsylvania, was missing for two weeks
  • Police said her body was found Sunday in a vacant lot in Camden
  • Authorities are still working to determine the cause of her death

(CNN) -- Police have identified the body of a missing mother found Sunday in a vacant lot in Camden, New Jersey.

A family member found the body of Jenna Lord, 23, of Collingdale, Pennsylvania, on Sunday in a vacant lot in Camden, according to Jason Laughlin, a spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office. Family members and police had been searching the area.

Lord, described as a formerly troubled young woman who had recently begun to turn her life around, went missing over the July Fourth weekend. She was last seen the morning of July 5, waiting for a train home to Pennsylvania at the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden after attending a Fourth of July gathering the night before, according to her mother, Desiree Caruso.

Her body was dressed in the same clothes she was wearing when she went missing, Laughlin reported.

Caruso told HLN's "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell" that her daughter's cell phone had died sometime over the weekend, and she used a man's phone at the train station to call her mother. Caruso said she missed the phone call, but talked with the man afterward, who told her that her daughter "looked a little scared."

The man told Caruso that he helped Lord buy a train ticket and waited with her until his train arrived.

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"His train came a minute before hers, and he got on his train and I guess he figured she would get on her train, but she never got home," Caruso said.

The man also said that Lord had been approached by another man, who told him he would make sure she got on her train, saying, "I got this," according to Caruso.

Surveillance video apparently shows Lord walking around the train station with two men following "about 5 feet" behind her, according to Caruso, who had seen the footage.

"It looked like they were saying something to her," Caruso said of the tape. "She looked back and then she just kept walking, and that's the end [of the tape]."

The Camden, Gloucester and Salem County medical examiner said the cause of death is undetermined due to the body's heavy state of decomposition, but there's no evidence of foul play, Laughlin said in a written statement. Investigators aren't able to conduct toxicology tests but are looking into whether other tests could determine how Lord died, Laughlin said.

Collingdale, Pennsylvania, Police Chief Robert Adams said Lord was reported missing from his town. Adams said the young mother attended a party in New Jersey and never returned home.

The family has said police were not helpful in searching for Lord. But Adams disputes that and said the case involved four jurisdictions and two states.

Adams said Lord, who has a young son, was scheduled to appear in court this week on charges of aggravated assault and theft in a neighboring town. She had not gone missing before, he said.

"This is not the conclusion I was not hoping for. I was hoping she'd be found in rehab or found alive and well," he added.

Lord's family has said police were hesitant to get involved because of her criminal past: She was arrested in 2006 for possession of marijuana and was arrested on assault charges earlier this year, Delaware County court records show.

But Caruso said Lord has been clean for six months, and had been reading the Bible daily and concentrating on being a mother to her 3-year-old son.

Camden Police Chief John Scott Thomson said in a statement Monday that his department "worked closely" with Lord's family in the search for Lord.

"In addition to investigative efforts and continuous radio police broadcasts, Camden City police officers were on foot, distributing flyers and searching with family members during yesterday's discovery," Thomson said. "The Camden Police Department is assisting the Camden County Prosecutor's Office with the investigation into Jenna's cause of death."