KLICKITAT COUNTY — A body found over the weekend has been identified as Rachel Norris, of Wapato, a Yakama Nation woman who has been missing since Nov. 14, the Klickitat County coroner confirmed Wednesday.
The cause of death is listed as blunt-force trauma, said David Quesnel, who serves as the prosecuting attorney and coroner. Norris sustained “multiple blunt force injuries with an aligned cause of fall from height,” he said. Her body was found at the bottom of a cliff along the Columbia River.
The manner of death will be listed as pending, Quesnel added. There is an ongoing investigation, with Washington State Patrol continuing to search the scene, but the preliminary autopsy results do not indicate foul play, he said.
He declined to say how long the body was believed to have been there before it was discovered, deferring further comment until full results from the autopsy are available, which are expected in six to nine months.
The autopsy is being conducted by the Clark County Medical Examiner’s office.
Norris’ body was discovered over the weekend after officers from the Washington State Patrol and the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call at about 11:15 a.m. Friday to a car that was over the bank of State Route 14 near milepost 105, Undersheriff Mike Kallio said.
When they arrived, the car’s door was open and no one was inside, Sheriff Bob Songer previously has said.
Kallio said after running license plates, the Subaru was determined to belong to Norris. Her driver’s license also was found in the car. An airplane was sent overhead Friday to search without any results. Around midday Saturday, a search and rescue team on the ground located the body.
Songer previously said the body was discovered several hundred yards from the car. Kallio added that it wasn’t clear how long it had been there. Fingerprints later confirmed it was Norris, 38, who had not been seen by family since Nov. 14, when her apartment burned in Wapato.
Family and friends spoke about Norris’ disappearance in late November during a news conference at Legends Casino, asking people to come forward with information. Norris worked at the casino. Relatives said she was shaken up by the apartment fire, and no one had heard from her since that afternoon.
In a post on Facebook on Wednesday, Norris’ aunt Kathryn Schwartz said a closed casket dressing would be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Toppenish Longhouse on Robbins Road, followed by overnight services and a sunrise burial for Norris at a separate location Friday morning.
Arrangements are by Valley Hills Funeral Home and Crematory in Zillah, www.valleyhillsfh.com.