Abbie Vansickle reports in the St. Petersburg Times:
INVERNESS – For weeks, rumors swirled that the man suspected of killing Jessica Lunsford kept her inside his home for a time, then buried her alive.
Documents released Wednesday suggest those grisly accounts are true.
Investigators found Jessica just as John Couey told them they would.
She was sitting upright in a 4-foot-deep grave, her wrists bound in front of her body with stereo wire. Two of her fingers had poked through the plastic trash bags stretched tight over her body. In her arms she clutched the stuffed purple dolphin that had been missing from her bedroom.
Her body bore no sign of injuries that would have caused death. Medical examiners ruled she died of asphyxiation, or a lack of oxygen.
That leaves open the likelihood that Jessica was alive in her grave as dirt and leaves were shoveled over her.It should also make Couey’s half-sister, Dorothy Dixon, and her daughter, Madie Secord, criminally liable for lying to investigators about Couey whereabouts. Couey was living with Dixon at the time, and the timeline suggests that Lunsford might still have been alive when police came looking for Couey.