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Thursday, October 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Missing Vietnamese woman died from drowning, medical examiner says

UPDATED: Fri., June 21, 2019

The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 confirmed 24-year-old Loc Nguyen died from drowning. An investigation into her death remains open. (Spokane County Sheriff’s Office / Courtesy photo)
The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 confirmed 24-year-old Loc Nguyen died from drowning. An investigation into her death remains open. (Spokane County Sheriff’s Office / Courtesy photo)

An autopsy has determined that 24-year-old Loc Nguyen died from drowning. Her body was found Jan. 30 in the Spokane River near the Upriver Dam.

Though investigators now know how she died, they have not closed their investigation into the circumstances of her death.

She went missing in December, and investigators and family said the Vietnamese woman left work on Dec. 3 after her shift at Total Wine and More at the Northpointe Plaza shopping mall.

She told family she would be home late, but never arrived.

“The investigation is still open,” said Cpl. Mark Gregory. “We continue to work with the medical examiner’s office as both of us work together to determine manner (of death).”

Two days after her disappearance, bystanders found her phone near the Centennial Trail entrance off South Mirabeau Parkway in Spokane Valley – about 11 miles east of where her body was eventually discovered by dam workers.

On the phone were three photos taken that night: one of Nguyen’s car and a hand, presumably hers, holding a bottle of alcohol. Metadata showed the picture was taken near PetSmart at the same plaza where she worked.

That same day, detectives also found Nguyen’s Volkswagen in the parking lot near the trailhead. Keys were missing from the ignition, and Nguyen’s purse and wallet had more than $100 in cash, court documents say. The bottle of alcohol she bought that night was also in the car and unopened. Detectives also found cat treats from PetSmart purchased that night.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Nguyen’s identification after a lengthy DNA test, which was necessary due to how long she was in the water.

The body showed no obvious signs of violence when it was retrieved from the river.

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