The San Francisco Police department has released the identity of the woman found in a black suitcase floating in the Bay on Tuesday, and the Medical Examiner’s office has confirmed that it was, indeed, a homicide.
According SFPD spokesperson Sgt, Lyn Tomioka, the victim is a 52-year-old African-American woman named Pearla Louis. A missing person’s report was filed on Louis, a San Francisco resident, at around 3 PM on Monday (the Chronicle reports that Tomioka would not say who reported her missing or when she was last seen). She had been identified by the authorities yesterday, but her name had not been released until today, pending notification of her family.
As you might recall, shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday, Margarito Real, who was walking with his niece, saw the suitcase floating near the Embarcadero and Folsom Street. Real reported it to firefighters who were returning from a rescue in the Bay, San Francisco fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said.
A firefighter “opened it and I think I saw a leg” said Real.
Police contacted the U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday to ask for assistance in determining the drift patterns in the Bay around the time the suitcase was found, according to Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Jeremy Pichette
A computer program that the Coast Guard uses in search-and-rescue missions to find out where an object may have drifted “essentially did a reverse search … trying to go back in time” to estimate where the suitcase may have drifted from, Pichette said.
He said, however, that the program was unable to provide any substantial information that would help police. As of Tuesday, police were saying that it appears the body had only been in the water for a couple of days. No identifying information was found on the suitcase.
The SF Medical examiners office reportedly performed her autopsy Wednesday morning, at which time they ruled the case a homicide. Tomioka told the Appeal she could not release the specific cause of death at this time.
She said investigators have determined how Louis died but do not want the information released to the public yet, citing an open investigation. The Chronicle reports that Louis had previous addresses in Oakland, and “had a history of homelessness and drug addiction, police said.”
Tomioka said police have no suspect information at this time, but could release few other details. SFPD is urging anyone with information on this case, she said, to call their anonymous tip line at 415-575-4444 or text them at TIP411 and “sfpd” in the “to” field.