Society

Family Drives Cross-Country With Body After Passenger Dies On Road Trip

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A Michigan man and his 92-year-old mother drove from Arizona to Michigan with the corpse of his 31-year-old girlfriend in the vehicle.

Ray Tomlinson, 62, told police his girlfriend died during the 1,700-mile trip and he did not want to leave her body alone in a hospital along the way. He said he thought he had 48 hours to report her death.

Tomlinson and his mother reportedly spent their winters in Arizona. When authorities arrived at his home in Warren, Michigan on Tuesday, Tomlinson was crying on the curb and his mother was still in her wheelchair in the back of his van, according to Deseret News.

The 31-year-old’s body was in the front passenger seat. She was wearing sunglasses and a seatbelt.

"She obviously had been dead for at least 24 hours in screeching heat," Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green told Deseret News.

The coroner is awaiting a toxicology report. Green said the woman had a substance abuse history. She was homeless when Tomlinson met her last year, and he helped her get back on her feet.

"They stopped in Flagstaff and she went in to use the bathroom," Green said. "We're guessing she might have overdosed."

“He then does an Internet search via his phone,” Warren Police Detective Sgt. Stephen Mills told the Detroit Free Press. “He says he finds on the Internet that he has 48 hours to take her to a medical examiner or to a morgue.”

He and his mother decided to keep driving and get the woman to the Macomb County morgue.

At some point during the road trip, a mental health facility worker in Arizona called the deceased woman’s cell phone and Tomlinson allegedly answered.

"It's a courtesy call," Green said. "He answers and said, 'She can't talk. ... She's dead.'"

The caller allegedly told Tomlinson to contact the police immediately, but he did not. He told Michigan authorities he was afraid if he did, the police would have him arrested and seize his van.

"I cared too much for her," he said. "I just lost a very close friend.”

Sources: Detroit Free Press, Desert News