published Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Chattanooga police ID body found near Tennessee River

Police are investigating the death of a 57-year-old woman whose body was found Friday on the south bank of the Tennessee River as a homicide, according to the department.

Preliminary reports issued to police by the Hamilton County Medical Examiner's Office determined Deborah Underhill suffered "suspicious wounds," police said Wednesday.

They did not go into detail about what types of wounds she sustained. It's also unclear where she was killed. Her body was discovered at 6 p.m. Friday near Patton Chapel Road.

The medical examiner's report was not available Wednesday afternoon.

Underhill was last seen when she checked into the AIM Center at 472 W. Martin Luther King Blvd. at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The center offers psychiatric services.

A little more than 12 hours later, a friend in St. Elmo reported her missing. Underhill lived in Red Bank but recently had stayed at a home in St. Elmo on Tennessee Avenue, according to police. No one answered the door of her Red Bank house Wednesday afternoon.

Underhill was known to frequent the downtown area, especially the Public Library, police said.

Chattanooga police have investigated 10 homicides so far in 2013. Underhill is the first woman killed this year. Seven of this year's homicides were the result of shootings. Police have made arrests in half the cases.

Investigators are asking for the public's help in learning what happened to Underhill and who she may have come into contact with before she was killed.

She was last seen wearing a tan plaid shirt, khaki pants and white tennis shoes. Underhill, who also used the last name Swafford, was 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed about 177 pounds. She had shoulder-length gray hair.

Anyone with information can call Chattanooga police at 698-2525.

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