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Marilane Carter: Missing Kansas mom's decomposing body found in her car inside a shipping container in Arkansas

Marilane Carter was driving to Birmingham to visit her sister who was due to give birth soon and also wanted to be in a familiar place during mental health assistance
UPDATED AUG 19, 2020
(Facebook/Marilane Carter)
(Facebook/Marilane Carter)

OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS: A woman who was missing for around two weeks has reportedly been found dead on Tuesday, August 18. Marilane Carter was last seen on August 1 when she left her home to drive to Birmingham, Alabama, to visit family and seek mental health assistance.

The body of the 36-year-old mother found in a shipping container in West Memphis, Arkansas, is believed to be of Marilane. A credit card on the name of the graduate of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School was also found inside the vehicle.

Crittenden County Sheriff’s Department officials said the woman’s uncle who joined other family members over the weekend in the search operation found the car and the body. The uncle was looking for Marilane in West Memphis because her phone last pinged in that area before she vanished.

The man saw three large shipping containers in a field off the interstate and as he looked inside one of the containers whose door was open, he discovered Marilane’s dark gray 2011 GMC Acadia inside it. He also found the body of a woman and immediately called 911. No foul play has reportedly been suspected into the death of Overland Park pastor’s wife.

Marilane’s family confirmed the discovery in a social media post that read: “With a heavy heart we share this update with everyone. Today, Marilane’s vehicle was found in West Memphis, AR, in Crittenden County. A female was found deceased in the vehicle. Law enforcement says that foul play is not suspected. The family asks for your thoughts and prayers right now and in the upcoming days.”

According to reports, Marilane, who was married to the Rev. Adam Carter – lead pastor at Leawood Baptist Church in Kansas – was going to Birmingham to visit her sister who was due to give birth soon and also for mental health assistance. Initially, she booked an air ticket to fly to Birmingham, but later she changed her plans and decided to drive instead. “That helps give a view into her mindset,’' Overland Park police Detective Blake Larsen said.


Marilane’s cellphone data and credit card charges helped authorities in finding that she traveled through Missouri where she stopped at a McDonalds. Then at around 3:37 a.m. on August 2, she checked in into the Quality Inn in West Plains, Missouri, before checking out of the hotel at 6:08 a.m. The same day, she stopped at a Shell Station in West Memphis, Arkansas, and fueled up her car and also went inside for some ice water. The last pinged GPS location of her phone was at 8:02 p.m. on August 2 near the Arkansas weigh station on Interstate 55 entering Memphis.

Before the tragic discovery, authorities had previously said that Marilane made some “concerning statements” to family members the night she went missing. “She was seeking some mental health care and she didn’t want to go to any place in Kansas City, but she wanted to go to a place she was familiar with,” Adam said.

Meanwhile, during a press conference, Crittenden County Sheriff's Office Chief Todd Grooms said: “To be honest with you, I don’t know what I was expecting. I was hoping for a more positive outcome, where she would show up somewhere and had maybe been somewhere getting some mental health treatment.” Grooms added that Marilane’s family  is "dealing with grief and the loss of a loved one.” "The reality of it is it was a sad day.”