The Daily Mail reports Carolyn Ann Watkins, 62, was reported missing by her son early Monday after she failed to show up to work. Her crashed car was found the previous Friday in a ditch near Smithfield, N.C.
Highway Patrol trooper Marlon Williams filed a report the day Watkins's 2000 Pontiac was found, stating both airbags had deployed and noting there was "no driver at the scene of this collision."
As it turns out, Watkins' body was still inside the car.
Williams had a tow truck move the car to a storage lot. Watkins's body remained inside the vehicle for three days before a police officer found it while looking for clues about her disappearance inside the vehicle.
The woman's cause or time of death has not yet been determined. Her son, Al Parker, believes she might still be alive had the trooper who found the car noticed she was still inside.
"I'm thinking she could still have been alive," Parker said Tuesday. "How do you not look in the car? When you pulled the car out, how do you not see a body in the car?"
Watkins was last seen Thursday and was said to be in good health.
Williams, who is a 9-year veteran of the Highway Patrol, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal review to be be conducted with help from the State Bureau of Investigation.
Watkins's body is currently undergoing an autopsy to determine when and why she died.