Sheridan Wahl, a Florida college student who was reported missing in Myrtle Beach before being found dead in rural Florence County, was dropped off by a man at the fire station where her body would be found, Florence County Coroner Keith von Lutcken confirmed to WMBF-TV on Tuesday.
von Lutcken also confirmed to the news agency that there were no calls nor text messages from her cellphone during the approximate 18 hours she was unaccounted for at Hannah-Salem Friendfield Fire Department. Von Lutcken said Wahl was found at the bottom of the fire station’s training tower, but did not explicitly say how she ended up there.
“I can’t say definitively someone didn’t push or throw her off. Likewise, I can’t say she didn’t fall or jump on her own. Therefore, the only options for manner of death is homicide, suicide or accident and we don’t know. That’s why I ruled it as undetermined,” von Lutcken told WMBF.
The news release of her autopsy results on Monday mentioned that she was found by the tower but didn’t definitively say that she fell from it, noting that her death was classified as “undetermined.” The Sun News left a message with the Florence County Coroner’s Office, but has not heard back from von Lutcken.
von Lutcken told WMBF that her injuries were all internal, which was not specified in Monday’s news release. He also told the news station that Wahl’s toxicology report didn’t show anything in “her bloodstream of concern.”
According to WMBF, von Lutcken said the unnamed man gave Wahl a ride from Keith Lane, where her car was found charred with no license plate and an illegible vehicle identification number, to the fire station. He added that investigators spoke with the man who dropped her off, but that no further information on him was available.
von Lutcken also told WMBF that investigators interviewed witnesses who say Wahl was “exhibiting unusual or erratic behavior.”
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has yet to provide any information about its probe to the public since Wahl was reported missing. The Sun News attempted to contact SLED spokesperson Tommy Crosby on Monday but has not gotten a response.
Officials have not named suspects nor stated whether they suspect foul play.
von Lutcken said Wahl’s “undetermined” cause of death could be changed if further information comes available, which Horry County Coroner Robert Edge noted to The Sun News on Tuesday while speaking generally and not about this specific case.
Edge explained that there are five possible manners of death: natural, suicide, accidental, homicide and undetermined.
Undetermined, meaning that not enough information is available to say whether an outside force caused the death, is a rare determination that Edge said he’s only listed a handful of times in his 30-plus-year career, and he couldn’t remember any specifically.
“Usually (the manner) is pretty open and shut,” he said.
Wahl, who was a Tampa, Florida, resident who was attending the University of South Florida, was last reportedly seen alive on Sept. 19 at a moped rental store in Myrtle Beach — visiting the area to see her father — though Myrtle Beach Police Department handed the case to SLED after it determined she had left the city “safely.”
Her car was later found burned in a cornfield about nine miles away from the fire department where her body was discovered. The car’s license plate was missing and the vehicle identification number was illegible, according to a police report from the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.
Wahl’s autopsy was completed in September, but the coroner was waiting on results from a toxicology report before officially determining the cause and manner and death.
Edge said his office seeks toxicology reports, which are relatively inexpensive, in almost all death investigations as a matter of policy in order to cover their bases, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they have any evidence to suspect drug use.
While Tuesday’s information gave further insight into Wahl’s death, there are still many questions as law enforcement remains tight-lipped.