09/13/2012 04:35 pm ET

Tashyra McDowell Missing: Young Mother's Body Found Wedged In Combine

The body of missing mother Tashyra McDowell was found wedged in a farmer's combine in central Illinois on Tuesday afternoon.

According to Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll, a farmer in the small town of Edelstein, located about 20 miles north of Peoria, Ill., was harvesting corn when the young woman's body became entangled in his combine.

"The operator of the combine was picking corn with an eight-row corn head attached to the combine, and Tashyra's body was picked up by the combine head," Ingersoll told The Huffington Post.

It took authorities approximately two hours to disassemble the combine and free McDowell's body. Autopsy results released Wednesday revealed that the 24-year-old was already dead when she became wedged inside the machine.

"The autopsy confirmed Tashyra sustained multiple gunshot wounds, and her cause of death is attributed to those wounds," Ingersoll said.

McDowell was reported missing on Monday, after her 7-year-old autistic son was found unattended at their Peoria home. McDowell's vehicle, a 1996 red two-door Ford Escort, was also missing but was later found abandoned in South Peoria. McDowell’s mother, Twila Rutherford, told police she had not had contact with her daughter since Friday.

The Peoria County Sheriff's Office, the lead law enforcement agency investigating the case, did not immediately return a call for comment from HuffPost.

According to the Journal Star, an ex-boyfriend of McDowell's, 25-year-old Stephen Turner, is considered a person of interest in the case. Turner was taken into police custody on Monday for illegal possession of a firearm.

Rutherford told the Journal Star that she confronted Turner on Monday. He allegedly told her he had spent the night with McDowell at an East Bluff, Ill., home on Sunday night, but said she and her son were gone when he awoke on Monday.

The alleged confrontation between Rutherford and Turner resulted in police being called to the scene. Turner, according to the newspaper, had a handgun inside a pair of boots and was arrested at the scene. He was held behind bars until Wednesday, when he was released with a notice to appear in court.

No further information has been released. The investigation into McDowell's death continues.



Missing People