Autauga County woman found deceased in vehicle on I-65

Published 4:22 pm Thursday, January 11, 2024

By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

A 78-year-old Deatsville woman, Patricia Gardner Dennis, was found deceased on Jan. 9 on Interstate 65 near the 214-mile marker in Chilton County in her vehicle. Dennis was found dead in her car and her daughter, 59-year-old Teresa Lyn Fisher, was also found in the vehicle and transported to the hospital. Fisher remains hospitalized as of Jan. 11.

In an article by AL.com, it was learned that Dennis and Fisher both left their Deatsville residence at around 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 6 to go to a gas station to pick up some items and were not heard or seen again until being found on I-65 on Jan. 9.

Keith Hughes, Dennis’ grandson, confirmed that his grandmother suffered with dementia, and his mother battles short-term memory loss. On their way to the store in the dark, they got lost and did not know their way back. Hughes’ grandfather, who also lived with Dennis and Fisher, is blind and physically disabled.

Hughes added that the way he understands how his mother’s mind worked is that “she may have remembered she was pulling out of the gas station heading home five minutes ago, but every five minutes, she is thinking she just pulled out of the gas station,” Hughes said in the AL.com article.

While the missing person’s report was filed in Autauga County, the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office will investigate the death.

“We are investigating it now,” Chilton County Sheriff John Shearon said. “Autauga County is investigating the missing persons part of it, and during the investigation (Dennis’) vehicle hit on cameras going north in Vestavia, or somewhere in that area. At some point, they turned around and came back, and at about the 214-mile marker going southbound, I am understanding that somebody called 911 for a medical call. When they get out there to check on them the mother was deceased. We do not know how long she had been deceased or anything like that at this point, but it is under investigation and they are doing an autopsy to see if there was any type of foul play or anything. As of right now, that is all we know until the autopsy is complete.”

There were no signs of a wreck or foul play on the initial response to the vehicle, and the CCSO is helping put together the 72-hour window when the two were missing.

Shearon said the autopsy could be done as early as Jan. 12, but will be available in the coming days.