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Carbondale Towers.jpg

The 231-unit Carbondale Towers property is located at 810 W. Mill St.

CARBONDALE — The woman who police found dead at Carbondale Towers early Friday morning has been identified as 37-year-old Kristin Duncan, of Murphysboro, the Carbondale Police Department said Monday afternoon. 

Officers responded to a call around 2 a.m. that morning regarding a subject “trapped in a mechanical device" at the property, according to a Carbondale Police Department news release. Duncan was deceased when officers located her body, police said.

Few additional details have been released in the ongoing death investigation.

Deputy Chief Stan Reno declined to elaborate on the type of mechanical device in which Duncan was found or the nature of her injuries, out of respect to her family.

The device is located inside the building, he said. Reno declined to say whether foul play is suspected, and police have not classified the nature of the death investigation. The results of an autopsy conducted over the weekend are pending, he added.

According to her obituary by Pettett Funeral Home in Murphysboro, Duncan leaves behind four children, and was “greatly loved by her children and her family.” A memorial service will be held at a future date, according to her obituary. 

Carbondale Towers, at 810 W. Mill St., is an affordable housing community for older adults and people with disabilities. It is owned by The Millennia Companies, a large national provider of federally subsidized housing headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. The property, which consists of two high rises, known as buildings A and B, and eight townhouses, is located just north of the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development subsidizes a portion of the rent paid by Carbondale Towers’ 231 low-income tenants via a contract with Millennia. Reno said that police do not believe that Duncan was a Carbondale Towers tenant, and it’s unclear why she was in the building on Friday.

On Monday, several residents said that the incident involved the trash chute in Building A. In the eight-story eastern tower, the doors that provide access to the trash chute on each floor are locked, and flyers have been placed on them informing residents that “the trash chutes will be closed until further notice” and that residents should take their garbage directly to the dumpster. They are signed “Thank you. Management.”

Several residents said the lack of security at the property has been an ongoing concern.

There are security cameras on some floors, but not all of them, residents said. The Southern Illinoisan spoke with six tenants. All but one resident asked that their names be withheld because they were concerned about their safety, as well as potential retaliation for speaking to a reporter about their security concerns at the property.

One woman, who lives in the tower where the body was found, said she was “terrified” by the incident. “It is unbelievable,” she said. She has an assistance dog that provides emotional support, and sometimes the dog wakes her owner up in the middle of the night to be let outside. “Somebody was saying it happened around 1 a.m. in the morning. And I’m like, sometimes she wakes up around 1 a.m. and we go out. It made me nervous.”

None of the residents that The Southern spoke to on Monday knew Duncan, or had any information about why she was in the building on Friday.

Still, several residents said that it would be unlikely that someone could accidentally fall in to a trash chute at the building based on its location on the wall, size and design. 

While accidental deaths involving trash chutes at high rises are rare, there are documented cases, according to media reports. Police have not said that her death was caused by the mechanical device in which her body was found.

Carbondale police investigate death of 37-year-old woman

Resident David Boyd said the property employed a security officer years ago, but has not for a long time. “It’s definitely unsettling," he said of Friday's incident. Boyd said there are security cameras located in the hallways of the first, second and third floors, but not any others. Boyd said he worries about some of the residents who are the most vulnerable because of their age and disabilities. The incident has left many of them shaken, he said.

Because the owner has entered into a contract with HUD for project-based rental subsidies, the federal agency inspects the building at least once every three years. HUD last inspected the building in 2016, and it received a near-perfect 99 out of 100 possible points, records show. The city also inspects rental properties, though the results were not immediately available.  

The newspaper’s attempts to reach a spokesperson for Millennia were unsuccessful Monday. A senior leader with the company told The Southern late last year that Millennia has plans for Carbondale Towers to undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation within the next few years. But he said that a variety of factors have delayed renovation plans at several of the company's affordable apartment complexes across the United States, including the ones in Carbondale.

In recent years, Millennia has been expanding its portfolio of HUD-assisted housing complexes, including with the purchase of Carbondale Towers and Mill Street Apartments in Carbondale.

According to the Carbondale Police Department, the investigation into Duncan’s death is active and ongoing.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Carbondale Police Department at 618-457-3200. People with information to share may also call the Carbondale/SIU Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 618-549-2677 or the Murphysboro/Jackson County anonymous tip line at 618-687-2677.

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isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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Reporter

Isaac Smith is a reporter covering Jackson County.

Reporter

Molly Parker is general assignment and investigative projects reporter for The Southern Illinoisan.

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