The mysterious deaths of a young mom and her baby found nude in a Fort Worth, Texas, field Tuesday continue to baffle investigators who say they have discovered no clear indications of how or why 27-year-old Lindsey Groce Gardner and her 13-month-old daughter Hailey ended up dead there.
The most obvious clue was a sedan that appeared to have crashed into a tree about 200 yards from where the bodies were found. But the car was empty when a passer-by discovered it and called police, who came to investigate the crash at about 8:20 a.m. on Tuesday.
It was not until around 11 a.m. that a fence repairman, working to fix the barbed wire fence through which the car apparently crashed, came across the nude body of Groce, which was lying on top of her infant daughter.
Police say that while the young mom and her baby are “connected” to the car crash, their bodies showed no obvious signs of injury other than some scratches. The Tarrant County medical examiner was also unable, as of Thursday morning, to determine a cause of death — but said that the bodies showed no evidence of foul play.
Hypothermia — excessive exposure to cold — has not been ruled out as a cause of death, with temperatures in the 30s and 40s Tuesday in Fort Worth. But if that is the case, police say they have no idea why Groce would get out of the car and walk across the field with her baby, away from nearby houses or the road where she could have sought assistance.
They are also baffled as to why the young mom stripped naked as she was walking, as a trail of garments found in the field appeared to indicate.
“We’re stumped,” an unnamed police source confided in the Dallas-Forth Worth CBS News affiliate.
UPDATE: According to a medical examiner, Lindsey Gardener and her 13-month-old daughter Hailey were caused by hypothermia and a phenomenon called “paradoxical undressing,” which sometimes occurs when victims who are freezing become disoriented and actually feel as if they are extremely hot. Of course, undressing in the cold only makes the hypothermia worse.
“My heart cries out for both the beautiful innocent child and the mother,” said Tarrant County Medical Examiner Dr. Nizam Peerwani said, calling the deaths of mother and child “very sad and unusual.”
“There were no injuries that looked like they would cause a person’s death,” Forth Worth Police Sergeant Joe Loughman told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper.
Investigators are also unsure exactly when the auto accident occurred, or how long Groce and her baby daughter were lying in the field.
Groce and her husband lived in an apartment complex approximately five miles from where her body was discovered.
According to an entry on her personal blog, as reported in the Star-Telegram, Groce had moved to the area while she was still pregnant, under difficult circumstances.
“Please pray for me and my family. My husband and I are going back to no home, no job, and pregnant,” said Groce, a freelance artist, in the blog entry.
But why the young mom, her baby, and husband moved to Texas from Lancaster, California, where she and the child met their mysterious deaths, was not clear.
[Images: WFAA-TV, Lindsey Gardner Facebook]