ZEIGLER — Brandy Hughes, 30, of Zeigler, has been identified as the woman who died Saturday after being discovered near death at Desel's Mud Ranch west of Zeigler.
The owner of the mud ranch discovered her on his property. Despite his attempts to save her life, she was pronounced dead after she arrived at Herrin Hospital.
Franklin County Sheriff Dave Bartoni said Monday morning that law enforcement made a positive identification over the weekend, but wanted to wait to release the name — he said they wanted to make sure all family members had been notified.
The investigation was prompted when Jarred Kirkendoll found Hughes' body on his property outside of Zeigler.
Kirkendoll and his 11-year-old son were out looking for signs of deer and coyotes in the fresh snow that had fallen. They saw prints that went the better part of a mile on his property, but not from an animal. Kirkendoll said there was something off about them, as he noticed there was only one shoe on the person who left the tracks. He looked at his son with a warning.
“Dude, somebody’s in trouble,” Kirkendoll remembered telling his child.
Then they found her — a woman lying on the ground. The high that day was about 30 degrees.
Kirkendoll said he took his son back up to the house; they live on the property where Kirkendoll operates Desel’s Mud Ranch. Then, Kirkendoll and his girlfriend came back for the woman.
“She was still breathing and had a pulse when we brought her up there,” he said Monday, adding that she could not talk or breathe. They wrapped blankets around the woman and tried to bring her temperature up.
These efforts did not work, and Hughes lost her pulse. Kirkendoll said he and his girlfriend did chest compressions until the ambulance arrived.
She was later pronounced dead at Herrin Hospital. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday evening with results expected sometime Tuesday.
Bartoni said Saturday that Hughes' death is being treated as suspicious.
“We are not ruling anything out,” Bartoni said Saturday.