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Post-mortem exam does not establish cause of autistic woman's death, says medical examiner

The cause of the death of an autistic woman who went missing from Macy's in Center City and was found dead the next morning on a West Philadelphia street could not be established after a post-mortem examination today, the office of the medical examiner said today.

Christina Sankey Christina Sankey. Credit: PPD

The cause of the death of an autistic woman who went missing from Macy's in Center City and was found dead the next morning on a West Philadelphia street could not be established after a post-mortem examination today, the office of the medical examiner said today.

Christina Sankey, 29, who is autistic, was found dead at 6:30 a.m. on Friday, March 7.

Further tests must be performed in medical laboratories, which could take eight to 10 weeks, before the cause or manner of Sankey's death can be determined, said Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office spokesman Jeff Moran.

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Sankey was reported missing Thursday, March 6, around 2:30 p.m. after she reportedly wandered away from her caregiver inside Macy’s at 1300 Market St.

Police said officers were flagged down by a concerned citizen about 6:30 a.m. Friday, March 7, who, while on their way to work, had spotted a woman on the ground between two parked vehicles on the 1400 block of North 57th Street in Carroll Park, West Philadelphia.

The woman, Sankey, was pronounced dead at 6:34 a.m. by medics.

Sankey suffered from autism and could not speak.

Detectives reviewed surveillance footage and reportedly saw Sankey on an escalator from the second to first floor at 3:10 p.m., but could not see on the tape where she went afterward.

Central Detectives, which covers the area where Sankey was last seen, and Southwest Detectives, which covers the area where Sankey was found dead, are both investigating her death, a Philadelphia Police Department spokeswoman said.

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