Meridian Star

March 19, 2014

Body of woman identified

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     A woman reported missing from Texas who was found dead Sunday at an interstate truck stop in Russell has been identified, Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department authorities said Tuesday afternoon.

    Sheriff Billy Sollie said the woman has been identified as Melba Browning, 75, of Perry County, Texas. Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler said Browning died of hypothermia. Cobler said medical personnel worked for more than an hour in an attempt to save Browning. She was later pronounced dead at a Meridian hospital.

    Sollie said the missing person's report was issued two weeks ago. He said witnesses at the TA Truck Stop on Interstate 20 in Russell told authorities they had been seeing the woman around the area for about a week prior to her body being found.

    "When the witnesses said they didn't see her anymore they assumed she had gotten a ride with a truck driver and left the truck stop," Sollie said.

    Sollie said on Sunday a truck driver found the body near the parking lot of the truck stop lying against an embankment. Medical personnel were called to the scene to try and revive Browning but were unsuccessful.

    "They worked hard for an hour and a half to try and warm her body up but she didn't respond," Cobler said.

    Cobler has said a cold, wet ground can dissipate the body heat of a person more quickly than most people believe. He said anytime the body's core temperature begins dropping below 95 degrees, the body functions and organs begin to become affected. If it reaches around 80 degrees, Cobler said the heart can stop beating.

    A woman who was homeless died of hypothermia two weeks ago under the Highway 39 overpass in Meridian.

    Sollie said Browning reportedly suffered from Alzheimer's disease. He said it was not known how she made it to the truck stop from Texas.