"This case brings to light the dangers associated with collections from dumpsters," local police said during the search for Stephanie Cox

By Benjamin VanHoose
February 12, 2020 09:53 AM
Stephanie Cox

After more than a week of searching, police believe they found the body of a woman thought to have died while dumpster diving.

On Monday, the Burlington Police Department in North Carolina announced that investigators found human remains at the Uwharrie Environmental Landfill in Montgomery County at about 5 p.m.

While authorities are still working with medical examiners to reach a positive identification, Burlington police said they believe the body belongs to 30-year-old Stephanie Cox, who was first reported missing by family members on Jan. 30.

Searches for Cox were temporarily halted by inclement weather last Thursday but resumed on Monday when the discovery was made.

According to police, no foul play is suspected, as it’s believed Cox was killed while searching through a dumpster behind a Five Below store alone at around midnight on Jan. 30.

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Police said surveillance footage showed no other people near the dumpster until a truck showed up to service the waste receptacles at 1:47 a.m.

Cox’s family members told police that it “was not uncommon” for her to “collect items from local dumpsters.”

“This case brings to light the dangers associated with collections from dumpsters,” said the Burlington Police in a statement. “The commonly known practice of ‘dumpster diving’ is not safe.”

According to a GoFundMe page set up by a longtime friend to help with funeral costs, Cox is remembered as a “wonderful person.”

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“She had the best sense of humor & was always there with positive encouragement when her friends needed her. Even though life pulled us apart we always reached out to check on each other,” wrote the friend in the fundraiser description.

Though authorities are still working to confirm that identification of the remains, police said they are “confident” it is Cox.

“Other factors such as clothing have assisted in this process,” a Burlington Police spokesperson told KTLA. “We are confident that Ms. Cox has been located.”