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Body believed to be missing Kansas pastor’s wife found in her car inside a shipping container

A body believed to be a Kansas pastor’s missing wife has been found in her car inside a shipping container in rural Arkansas, two weeks after she vanished.

Mother-of-three Marilane Carter’s uncle discovered the decomposing remains when he traveled to Crittenden County to look for her and saw the door of the container open.

The body has not yet been positively identified as Carter, but authorities confirmed the car is hers.  A credit card bearing her name was also recovered inside the vehicle.

Cops have not released a cause of death but do not suspect foul play.  


On Wednesday afternoon, the Leawood Baptist Church in Kansas, where Carter’s husband is a pastor, posted a message on its Facebook page confirming Marilane’s death. 

‘It is with very heavy hearts that we share that Marilane Carter has passed away,’ the post read in part. ‘Her vehicle and body were found Tuesday in the West Memphis area. Law enforcement says that foul play is not suspected.’ 

Carter was last seen on August 2 when she checked into a Quality Inn hotel in Missouri for three hours on her way to Alabama to seek treatment for anxiety and visit relatives. 

She later called her parents from the road, sounding confused and telling them she kept getting lost. Carter was never heard from again. 

After a frantic two-week search, her gray GMC SUV was found inside a shipping container in a remote field off Interstate 55.

Crittenden County Sheriff’s Department Chief Todd Grooms told WREG that officers had searched that field before and seen several shipping containers, but did not think to look inside them.

‘I just never would have dreamed that her vehicle would have been up inside one of them,’ Grooms said. 

On Tuesday morning, Carter’s uncle, who stayed behind after a weekend search involving other family members, was driving and walking around the area where his niece’s phone was last pinged when he came upon three shipping containers in the field.

He noticed that one of the containers was open and decided to take a look inside, discovering his niece’s gray 2011 GMC Acadia with Kansas plates with a body inside.  

The sheriff’s chief said no foul play is suspected at this time in connection to the woman’s death. 

‘I believe that anything that happened, happened by her own doing,’ Chief Todd Grooms said. 

The woman’s decomposing body was taken to the state crime lab in Little Rock for an autopsy.  

Carter, the wife of Rev. Adam Carter, of the Leawood Baptist Church, left her home in Overland Park on the night of August 1 to head to Birmingham where her parents live and where she hoped to seek mental health treatment at a hospital where she once worked.

She was last seen alive on surveillance footage checking into the hotel in West Plains, Missouri, the following morning. 

In the footage, Carter is seen walking across the parking lot of the hotel with her luggage before entering the building and approaching the reception where she is greeted by hotel staff. 

She checked out of the hotel three hours later and left in her car.

The 36-year-old, who has two young sons and a daughter, was last heard from later that night.

Her husband Adam said he had spoken with her on the night of August 2 and his wife’s cell phone went dead.

A short time later, Carter spoke to her mom Marlene Mesler on the phone.

‘We were in contact with her all the way, but then, partway through the trip, she started seeming confused and disoriented. She said she kept on getting lost,’ Mesler told WREG. 

Carter’s phone went dead somewhere on the I-55 bridge. 

This was the last time she was heard from and her credit cards have not been used since. 

Her family were asking the authorities to search the Mississippi River around the bridge close to where the missing mom’s cell phone last pinged. 

‘We need volunteers to help us search right around the I-55 bridge at Memphis,’ her concerned husband Adam previously told WMC Action News 5. 

‘We need people with boats and very good sonar and experience navigating the Mississippi River.’   

Authorities said Carter had made concerning statements to her family in the lead-up to her disappearance.  

‘Our three kids miss her,’ her husband Adam told WMC Action News. ‘I miss her. We want to have her home.’   

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