NEWS RELEASE REGARDING AUTOPSY RESULTS:
The cause of death is still pending after today’s autopsy. Drowning is the apparent cause, but the medical examiner will not issue a final determination until toxicology results become available. The autopsy confirmed that there was no trauma to the body, nor were there any other obvious signs of foul play.
Based on witness accounts, investigators have determined that the victim was intoxicated on the morning she was last seen. The last contact with the victim was between 6:00 – 7:00 a.m. on Saturday morning when she used her cell phone.
At about 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, a couple walking along the river found the victim’s purse and turned it in at the Hilton. (The victim was not registered at the hotel, although she had friends who were staying there). Contents of the purse were undisturbed, i.e., the victim’s cell phone, wallet, credit cards and cash were still in the purse.
Clarification: No witnesses have reported seeing the victim swimming in the river, although several of her friends went in the water in the hours before her disappearance.
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- We're learning more about the woman whose body was found in the Cape Fear River in Downtown Wilmington Sunday. Friends say 26-year-old Joanne Dacuno was vacationing with friends here in Wilmington. They say she was known as the girl with the big smile and caring soul.
"My whole body went numb, because you don't want to believe something like that," said Deborah Sheppard, who went to high school with Joanne Dacuno in Snow Hill. The sudden news of her friend's death stirred up a mixture of emotions.
"It's just hurtful," she said. "You know, somebody as beautiful and loving and caring as her. You would hate to know that she went through something like that."
Dacuno was a full-time nurse in Greenville. Childhood friend Allison Gardner, who posted her thoughts on a dedication page on Facebook, told WWAY that her friend was the most caring person she had known and was always the life of the party.
Police said they expect drowning as the cause of Dacuno's death. Her body was found in the Cape Fear River near the Hilton Sunday. Police confirmed that two of Dacuno's friends were checked into the Hilton. Investigators are still trying to find out just how she made it into the river. So far several of Dacuno's friends who were vacationing with her have been interviewed. No foul play is suspected.
Dacuno's autopsy was scheduled for today. Police expect to confirm her cause of death once the autopsy is complete.