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UPDATE: Autopsy results back on woman found in river; friends remember her life

READ MORE: UPDATE: Autopsy results back on woman found in river; friends remember her life


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.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


R.I.P Joanne

Praying for peace for Joanne's family and friends who are at a loss and also praying for peace for those who can only seem to post negitive things on here. One would think you all could find it in your hardened hearts to keep your sour opinions to yourself for this family's sake. I do not know her, however, I can only imagine how I would feel if I was her family or a friend. You should all be ashamed... You all need a lesson in tact.

What does the toxicology

What does the toxicology report show? Can it determine if she was alive or dead when she hit the water? Does anyone know how deep the water was? If she fell in would it have been over her head? or could she have simply stood up and been ok? The thought of she got drunk and fell in the water just don't make sense at all to me.

Cape Fear River 3 Humans

Cape Fear River 3 Humans 0!!!! Who knows what happened. To all of you that knew her why respond to these post!! WHY! Your not gonna change a thing! Your fellow Americans do have a right to speak! More than one person lost their life for that right!! My advice to you is not entertain these post! I do wonder why the friends were in there? If someone pushed her why leave the purse on the peer? The investigation also points to intoxication!
Why is it so hard for people to accept their responsibility for their actions. No one wants to be told it is your fault, instead folks bear false witness for folks, lie, cheat, and deflect. WE will SEE WHEN THE TOXICOLOGY REPORT COMES BACK!!!!! EITHER WAY SO SAD AND STUPID!!

All of you idiots who just

All of you idiots who just see this as anoter "stupid drunk incdient" are awful people. How can you sit here and post comments such as "why was she swimming" "who goes swimming in the Cape Fear River" are inconsiderate. WERE YOU THERE???!! DID YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENED!!??? NO! You didn't so don't make assumptions. It is clearly stated by the investigators that her friends went into the water hours before her disappearance. And it does NOT say where they were in the water. No one will knows what Joanne did after 7am Saturday morning, we may never know, but to post such hurtful things knowing her mother will be seeing is HATEFUL!! People like you are the reason why this world is the way it is. Mind your own business, don't make any assumptions, and let the family and her friends greive. People are stupid, inconsiderate, rude, and have no feelings for another human being to be able to post stupid comments. Would you want to read what you wrote if it was your child??? And also who are you to say that she was not raised right by her parents? You don't know who she was or where she came from. Joanne was loved by many. She was always smiling and a very smart girl. She was a caring sister, a wonderful daughter, a true friend, and a great nurse. She will be missed by many and her memories are what she be posted NOT WHAT HAPPENED OR WHAT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED. Be considerate of others-especially her family.

You Wasted A Whole Bunch Of Time

Your post won't phase a troll. Remember this board is mostly unmonitored with a few exceptions. Enjoy want you read here as you get the REAL perspective into some sick minds. I read these peoples comments trashing others and understand fully why the US coming apart. It appears that we hate one another and refuse to address our own short comings. Sad.

Let her rest...

To anyone who is assuming its her fault that she died..shame on you. Joanne has been one of my best friends since middle school and EVERYONE who knew her loved her. She was a nurse and a great person who had been through many struggles in life but always held her head high and kept on. This is absolutley a tragedy and the hearts of those who love her couldnt hurt any worse than they do right now. This world didnt lose some drunk girl, they lost an absolute inspiration to everyone and a hero to many. I have lost loved ones before but this has my heart torn into peices and I dont know if this hurt will ever really go away. No one who actually knows Joanne can think of ONE bad thing to say about her. So please have some respect for Joanne, her friends and family, and everyone who was BLESSED enough to know her!

Terrible Loss----But

Who the heck goes swimming in the Cape Fear River.... Just look at the thing...its got a STRONG current...girls and boys STOP getting drunk and decide to swim in the River!!!!!!! Same thing happen to a young man a few years back...21st birthday, drunk and decided to swim in the Cape Fear...that was his last swim...


Can u seriously let her rest in peace? and maybe re-read the article....i have known her since the 5th grade and she was one of my very best friends. She was smart, sweet successful a hard worker and had face many MANY struggles in her life but always saw the good in every person and every situation. She was an angel here on earth and all the people who actually KNEW her wouldnt think of one bad thing to say to her. This is an absolute tragedy and she and her family and friends deserve some respect right now...not judgement. Joanne was an absolute inspiration to all who were blessed to know her and we arent sure this hurt in our heart will ever go away. So respectfully I ask you not to add insult to injury. We have lost a very special person and phenomonal friend and we would like to remember her that way without someone trying to make it out like its her fault shes passed. thanks!!!

First of all you don't know

First of all you don't know if she went swimming in the river or not. You don't know if someone pushed her or what happened so don't make any assupmtions.

have some respect for the

have some respect for the girl.. she was human jus like you! She did have a life just like you, so have some respect!!

It doesn't say that she had

It doesn't say that she had been swimming. Re-read the story if you must. No one truly knows what happened. Don't try to make it seem like she is at fault for her death when you know nothing about the situation. I went to high school with her and she was a wonderful and cheery person. My prayers are with the family!

If she wasn't swimming in the river..

Then how did she drown??? Yeah I was young dumb and drank underage, but I knew better then to put my toes into water that rushes by as fst as a car at times... Sweet and innocent, but obviously had no good judgement when it came to drinking... an dher friends can be to blamed as well for leaving her alone...drink in packs and leave in packs... no sense of loyalty on friends these days..look at Hollaway...her friends let her leave..that sweet and innocent child...
Parents need to teach the kids better overall!!!

Reply to "Terrible Loss----But" clown!!!

Maybe we should wait until the family can grieve properly before we start blasting the child's judgment. We have all have been young and made mistakes. She was a sweet, loving, and very successful girl and I pray for her family!

Where in the article did it say...

she was swimming in the Cape Fear River...or is that simply an assumption on your part?

Regardless, her death is a tragedy.

4th Paragraph down. Doesn't

4th Paragraph down.

Doesn't imply SHE was swimming, but her group of friends were...

"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."

"Clarification: No witnesses

"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."
So, it does not state that she went swimming in the Cape Fear River, but her friends did. Why on earth would they do that? Just look at the thing... :)

Alcohol: The Most Destructive Drug

Day after day we read about the destructive effects of alcohol: accidents, fights, killings, DWI fatalities, etc.

And so many of the victims have imbibed at downtown bars shortly before their catastrophes. The numerous bars downtown--open until 2 a.m.--are encouraging destructive behaviors that lead to tragedies like this.

Yes, you bar owners share some responsibility. You serve the drug, and the drug does its damage. It's not called "demon alcohol" for nothing.

This is one of the most

This is one of the most asinine comments I've ever read. If someone kills themself driving a car at 100mph, are you going to blame the car? Maybe blame the car salesman? How about blame the car company?

How about if somebody stabs themself with a knife, is that the knife company's fault? Or the store that sells the knives?

What if somebody drowns themself in a pool? Who's to blame then? Pool company? Water? Gravity?

Ever heard the phrase that "when you point your finger at someone, you have 4 fingers pointing back at you"?

Sad to read.

This is the reason you don't swim alone. What a needless way to die. I know she will be missed by alot people. Her youth will make her sadly missed by many. When your young you will be missed by all those who are that age. When you are older most of the people who know you have already proceded you.