COVINGTON — The Covington Police Department has identified the woman found dead in a wooded area on Washington Street Wednesday evening as 59-year-old Beverly Newman.
It has also determined that pending final autopsy results, her death occurred due to natural causes and not homicide.
"We believe her death is of natural causes and manner, although final results are still pending until we can get all our testing and reports in line. However, it is still an open investigation," said Newton County Coroner Tommy Davis, who is working with the CPD on the investigation.
Newman's body was found behind Moseley Electric around 4 p.m. Wednesday by an employee of the company. The body was lying in a makeshift campsite where it appeared the woman may have been living.
Capt. Craig Treadwell said the woman was positively identified around noon Friday based on her fingerprints, although investigators had tentatively identified her through various identification documents found near the body the night it was discovered.
"The best we can tell she was homeless and had a lean-to set up back there in the woods," Treadwell said, adding that she had previously lived in Covington with friends and stayed a while at the The Garden of Gethsemane Homeless Shelter.
"When she left there about three or four weeks ago, she began living in the woods," Treadwell said, adding that preliminary estimates are that she had been dead about five days when her body was found.
Newman was originally from Morganton, N.C., and is survived by relatives living in North Carolina.
Garden of Gethsemane Director Clara Lett was shocked to hear that Newman was dead.
"Bless her heart, bless her heart," Lett said.
She said someone told her he had seen Newman sleeping "by the trailer park on Washington Street, and he said he asked her why she didn't go on back to the shelter," Lett said.
She said she didn't know why Newman had left the shelter in the first place.
"She just left one day and didn't come back. She was dealing with some mental challenges. She really needed a lot of help," Lett said, adding that the woman had been known to take drugs.
Lett said the woman's daughter, a nurse, had driven to Covington to take her back home last year.
"Her daughter is a wonderful person, a nurse," she said. "The next thing I knew, Beverly was back here again."
Lett said cases like this is why she runs the shelter.
"We're just going to see more and more of this homelessness with campsites and all. People every day give me such a hard time, and I'm just trying to make people safe."