Authorities in Indiana remain puzzled over the mysterious deaths of a mother and daughter found in their Evansville home last week.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Kimbra Shanafelt and her 5-year-old daughter Dahni Shanafelt were found unresponsive on Wednesday night after a relative concerned that Kimbra had been unreachable by phone went to the home with their own key to check on the mother and daughter.
Local reports indicate the relative found Dahni first; she was reportedly lying halfway under a bed, with indications she had vomited, and with her eyes rolled back, the relative said in a 911 call. Kimbra was found in the garage. Although a police spokesperson initially said that responding deputies observed injuries to Kimbra’s face and body, an autopsy did not find any indication of trauma, deepening the mystery of what happpened to the well-liked mother and daughter.
Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding shared further details about the autopsy reports with WFIE, saying that the autopsies showed no signs of injury or struggle.
“The autopsy revealed some very important information to the sheriff’s office, and the information is that neither victim has sustained any type of injury that could have caused their death … as a matter of fact, neither victim had any real injury on any part of their body that would be associated with somebody trying to even do them harm,” Wedding told the news station.
According to the report, the sheriff’s department is now classifying the probe as a death investigation, an apparent revision of an earlier assesment that the deaths were a result of a double homicide.
“As a sheriff, I’m very puzzled that we have two deceased individuals, that we can’t find the cause just yet,” Wedding told WFIE. “But our investigators are working very hard and very diligently to determine that cause.”
Kimbra Shanafelt and her daughter Dahni Shanafelt were remembered for their laughter and smiles. The mother and daughter were found dead Wednesday. https://t.co/Qiq4kGWd4G
— Courier & Press (@courierpress) April 24, 2020
The mother and daughter has reportedly lived in the home for less than six months. Kimbra’s sister Dana Markee told the Courier & Press that prior to moving into the home, Kimbra and Dahni had stayed with her while Kimbra was going through a divorce proceeding. It is not known if her former husband is Dahni’s father. Kimbra also has an 18-year-old son from a previous marriage who lives in another state, according to the report.
According to those who knew them, Kimbra and Dahni were both happy, generous people who were devoted to helping others. After Kimbra learned she had contracted HIV last year, her sister said that Kimbra worked with local AIDS assistance organizations to create person hygiene kits. And Dahni had recently created 40 greeting cards for nursing home patients who were in isolation for the Easter holiday due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A childhood friend told WFIE that Kimbra’s wide social circle was devastated by the tragedy.
“I can say she would be absolutely shocked by how many people have been touched by all this,” Sarah Wold said.
“She always smiled at everybody. She just did her best to provide and work hard. Her family was important to her. She had a beautiful smile. We would get in trouble in high school just for laughing.”
Authorities are awaiting the results of toxicology tests to help determine the cause and manner of death; it could be up to three weeks before those test results are available.
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