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Missing Woman Found Dead In Police Employees' Parking Space

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Photo provided to the press by the family of Eileen Orta

For the second time in two months, police and rescue workers overlooked a woman's dead body in a vehicle that was in their possession.

The Pomona Police Department announced today that the body of 22-year-old Eileen Nicole Ponce-Orta was discovered inside of her van on Friday. Police initially summoned the Orta family to remove the illegally parked vehicle before it was impounded. In spite of the fact that a missing person's report with a complete description of the van had been filed three days earlier. According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, the vehicle "was illegally parked in a space typically reserved for Pomona police employees."

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Orta's mother, Tracy Ponce, told the LA Times that when the police contacted her regarding the van, they told her that there were no signs of foul play. The family was relieved.

Ponce said that when family members arrived at the lot, they found her daughter's maroon Plymouth Voyager with the front windows rolled down. She opened the van's sliding door, then lifted up some blankets in the back seat and saw part of a leg. Ponce knew it was her daughter, because of her purple toenail polish. "Oh, my God," she said.

Her son, Ricky, quickly pulled her away. He and Ponce-Orta's husband, Nick, jumped in the back seat and threw off the blankets.

"Mom, don't go in there!" Ricky said. "It's Eileen! It's Eileen!"

Authorities said Ponce-Orta, the La Puente mother of a 2-year-old, had been stabbed in the neck. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

No one had checked the van prior to releasing it to the family even though was linked to an ongoing missing person's case. Pomona Police Chief Joe Romero defended his department's actions, insisting that they followed proper protocol.

Maybe it's time someone rethought protocol.

Previously on LAist: LAPD Leaves Body in Car at Crash Scene, Then Tows It