Nassau County police Tuesday identified the woman found dead in a parked car shortly after midnight in a Syosset parking lot as 22-year-old Jasmine Joseph, who had been missing for two weeks.
Joseph, of Syosset, died of an apparent suicide, Inspector Kenneth Lack told reporters Tuesday during a news conference at police headquarters in Mineola. It appears Joseph inhaled a “noxious substance,” Lack said.
The Nassau County Medical Examiner has yet to complete an autopsy on her body, but police came to that determination after Joseph’s body was discovered wedged between the front and back seats of her Nissan Altima. The car was discovered in the parking lot of a strip mall on Cedar Street and Jericho Turnpike, less than a mile from where she lived.
Lack declined to say if a suicide note was found, and said Joseph’s motivations are still unclear.
Investigators have yet to determine how long Joseph had been dead before Tuesday’s tragic discovery, but police believe the car sat there idly for “an extensive period of time,” Lack said.
The position in which her body was in made her unnoticeable to passersby, police said.
Patrol officers located the car but officers didn’t enter the vehicle until a robot deemed the car safe of any toxins.
Joseph was last heard from on the afternoon of Feb. 24 when she told her parents that she was studying at New York Institute of Technology’s Old Westbury campus library.
Police said Joseph stopped attending classes in October, but her parents were still under the impression that she was going to class.
Lack said early on in the investigation there were some indications that she may have left the county. Joseph also happened to be driving one of the most popular cars on the road, which complicated matters, police said.
Lack said police are still looking into her personal life but said “she was somewhat deceptive in her personal life, which made the investigation more complicated.” He specifically mentioned Joseph’s decision to hide the fact that she was no longer attending classes at NYIT.
Police conducted an extensive search when notified of her disappearance. Police investigated phone records and examined her computer and even checked international flights.