Body found in trunk was that of missing Fort Worth woman

Posted Monday, Nov. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Remains discovered in September in the trunk of a missing Fort Worth woman’s car found southeast of Waco have been identified as the 59-year-old woman’s, police confirmed Friday.

Adrian Denise Thornton, a lifetime Fort Worth resident described by friends as sweet but extremely private, was reported missing June 15 by a longtime friend.

Police fliers indicate that Thornton was last seen June 1.

A passer-by found her purse and identification — slightly burned but still legible — in mid-June off a state highway in Falls County.

On Sept. 22, a man looking for deer spotted Thornton’s Lincoln Continental Town Car in high weeds several hundred yards off County Road 414, off Texas 7 between Shelton and the Brazos River.

The car, which had blood on the outside, was found to be registered to the missing woman. It was impounded and taken to the Department of Public Safety crime lab in Waco, where the decomposing remains were found in the trunk.

The remains were sent to the Dallas County medical examiner’s office, which recently identified them as Thornton’s, Fort Worth homicide Sgt. Cheryl Johnson confirmed Friday.

Johnson declined to release additional details, including whether the cause of death has been determined. She said no arrests have been made.

Thornton’s disappearance and death have shocked those who knew her.

Johnnye Hughes, 92, had attended St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church with Thornton’s parents, Bob and Mildred Thornton, and had known Thornton since she was 2.

An only child, Thornton was a good but shy girl who often had to be pushed into activities by her mother, Hughes said.

She remained introverted as she grew up, Hughes said. Thornton served a short time in the military, Hughes said, then worked for the U.S. Postal Service.

She never married or had children but remained close to her mother, caring for her at the Woodhaven home they shared until Mildred Thornton died in 2011, Hughes said.

After her mother’s death, Thornton became harder to reach, Hughes said. Messages left on her answering machine rarely got a response.

“She didn’t bother anyone. As a matter of fact, we had to bother her,” Hughes said. “We just can’t understand. It just had to have been a stranger or something that would even attempt to harm her. She’s just a quiet, sweet person.”

Sarah Walker, a sorority sister of Thornton’s mother, said Thornton’s disappearance had weighed heavily on her and her sorority sisters all summer.

“She wouldn’t have just walked off,” Walker said.

“… You don’t want to just be left unknown,” Walker said. “Just because she didn’t have any (immediate) family, she did have an extended family and that’s us in Fort Worth who she grew up with.”

Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655 Twitter: @deannaboyd

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