Autopsy conducted as homicide investigation continues

Chilhowee woman's cause of death unknown

Lt. Bryan Reid with the Holts Summit Police Department steps off of a tractor trailer Thursday after using a flashlight to look inside, searching for clues in a homicide investigation. The trailer was located on a gravel lot behind the Exxon Mobile in Holts Summit located on the 100 block of East Simon Boulevard. The body of Jessica Murafetis, 44, of Chilhowee, Mo., (rural Johnson County) was found in a grassy field behind the gas station.

Lt. Bryan Reid with the Holts Summit Police Department steps off of a tractor trailer Thursday after using a flashlight to look inside, searching for clues in a homicide investigation. The trailer was located on a gravel lot behind the Exxon Mobile in Holts Summit located on the 100 block of East Simon Boulevard. The body of Jessica Murafetis, 44, of Chilhowee, Mo., (rural Johnson County) was found in a grassy field behind the gas station. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

Holts Summit police are investigating the death of a Johnson County woman, whose body was found near a gas station on Thursday.

The medical examiner for Callaway County will perform an autopsy today to determine the cause of the woman’s death.

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Officers from the Holts Summit and Jefferson City police departments, as well as the Callaway County Sheriff’s Office and Missouri Highway Patrol, search a grassy field for evidence Thursday behind the Holts Summit Exxon Mobil on the 100 block of East Simon Boulevard after a woman’s body was discovered there.

Jessica Murafetis’s body was found a little before 11:30 a.m. Thursday in the grassy area north of the Exxon Mobil gas station just off U.S. 54 in Holts Summit. The area where the body was found is near a gravel lot where tractor-trailers park.

The police are calling the case a homicide, and Sgt. Marc Haycook with the Holts Summit Police Department said he didn’t want to speculate as to how the victim died.

Murafetis, 44, of Chilhowee, was identified by 7 p.m. and next of kin had been notified, according to Haycook.

“Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, no further details can be released at this time,” Haycook said in an email.

Police were notified of a woman lying in the grass after a gas station customer spotted her and notified an employee, who called police.

“Officers responded from the Holts Summit Police Department and quickly determined that the body was deceased,” Haycook said in a press conference Thursday.

Haycook said the woman had no identification on her, and at the time of the press

conference Thursday afternoon, investigators were still trying to find out who she was.

Murafetis was wearing “olive drab” U.S. Marine Corps sweatpants and a red long-sleeve T-shirt with the logo of Kansas City-based Convenient Towing and Recovery company on it.

“We’re going to investigate every lead, and at this point, that is a lead. Hopefully with that unique clothing description, that might be a key to somebody recognizing this person,” Haycook said during the press conference.

Although investigators have no suspects, Haycook said police followed up on a couple of leads earlier on Thursday and were looking into a couple more.

Investigators don’t know how long the woman had been dead, Haycook said, and that will be difficult to determine because of the cold weather. He said the body had not decomposed.

The Holts Summit Police Department is leading the investigation with assistance from the Callaway County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson City Police Department and Missouri Highway Patrol. Dori Burke, chief forensic investigator with the medical examiner’s office, was on scene Thursday.

Authorities removed the body from the crime scene as about 14 officers searched the grassy field for clues.

Haycook said investigators plan to review tapes from the Exxon Mobil station.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Bryan Reid with Holts Summit police at 573-896-8431 or Callaway Crime Stoppers at 573-592-2474.

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