Missing woman, stepfather found dead in south Nashville

Monday, June 21, 2010 at 3:25am
Staff reports

A 31-year-old mentally challenged woman and her stepfather, both of whom were reported missing Thursday, were found dead Sunday morning in their car in a Walmart Neighborhood Market parking lot.

Police said there were no signs of foul play, but that autopsies will be performed on Monday.

Jamella Finnie and her 51-year-old stepfather Craig Townsend were found dead in Townsend’s Kia sedan in the parking lot at Edmondson Pike and Old Hickory Boulevard in south Nashville, police said.

Finnie was mentally challenged and suffered from hypoglycemia and seizures. She accompanied her mother, Gwenn Townsend, and Townsend’s husband, Craig, to the Wal-Mart store at 5824 Nolensville Pike on Wednesday afternoon.

Gwenn Townsend told police she went inside to shop, and when she returned, her husband and daughter were inexplicably gone. Gwenn Townsend reported her daughter, who required life-sustaining medication, as missing.

Police said surveillance video from the Walmart Neighborhood Market showed that the Kia pulled into the parking lot at 2:42 p.m. last Wednesday, within an hour after it left the Nolensville Pike store.

A market employee happened to notice the bodies just as a Tennessee State Trooper entered the parking lot to get a cup of coffee at the adjoining Starbucks. The employee flagged down the trooper, who notified Metro police.

Police said one of several possibilities is that Townsend suffered some type of medical event and Finnie was unable to get out of the car due to her health issues and diminished mental capacity.


4 Comments on this post:

By: PoloPony on 6/21/10 at 9:32


Who writes these articles??? They've got me so confused about what happened. Both people died in a car that wasn't even at the store where the mother was shopping? Carbon M. wasn't even mentioned as a possibility? What kind of medical condition did Craig have? If he had seizures why was he driving? If Finnie couldn't get out of the car...why? Why did she die just being in the car? This article wreaks of poor journalism and investigative reporting!

By: PoloPony on 6/21/10 at 10:03


OK, I've gone back and read this article 7 more times and my God, what the heck is wrong here??? These two people were reported missing on Wednesday at a Walmart N M and were found Sunday at a different Walmart N M. The police had a description of the car and of course the tag number. Where were the police all this time? Aren't these Walmart N M parking lots virtually empty at night? Did no one from the store come out to get the carts for 4 days? Did no one park next to this Kia for 4 days including a busy weekend? My guess is that Craig got lost and pulled into the wrong Walmart N M and while sitting there waiting for Gwenn, he fell asleep in the hot car and died from heat stroke. Then Finnnie died the same way as she was unable to figure out what to do in that situation so she sat in the hot car until she died, also. I'll be interested in finding out why no one found this missing car before Sunday, when it was parked in an extremely public place for 4 days and nights! Are people getting to the point where they don't even notice other people in danger??? Take off the blinders, folks, and start thinking more about those around you instead of keeping your heads up your own a$$e$ all the time. It appears that this tragedy could have been prevented!!!

By: Flealips on 6/21/10 at 12:02

Lynn Durham
What appears to have happened here is that the three of them went to the Wal-Mart on Old Hickory Blvd. The mom got out to shop, the Step-Dad started to feel sick in the hot car and drove off for awhile... He got disorented and went to the WRONG WAL-MART to pick his wife back up.. That is how the car ended up at the Wal-Mart on Edmondson Pike instead of Old Hickory Blvd.... The step-father had a problem in the heat but the daughter could not get out of the car to get help for him and they both died from the intense heat inside of the car....the whole thing is pitiful.... someone should have noticed them long before they died. Everyone just wants to "stay out of it"and that is how folks die. I would have called 911 had I seen them in that car but few others would stop to do that or even think of doing it. I have called 911 for a puppy and a kitty left in a hot car...I certainly would for two people in distress! We all need to be more aware of what is happening around us...

By: loli on 6/23/10 at 10:50

It is an awful story. It would be quite a leap for the police to assume the stepfather returned to a different Wal-Mart store and start searching for them in other Wal-Mart parking lots. It seems that foul play would be the first assumption which would lead police in various wrong directions. Sadly, there would not have been much time for error. These people might have been saved if there had been an observant bystander but I don't think many people pay attention to their surroundings. A story like this should wake us up.