Slain teen's body lingered in morgue

March 21, 2009 6:34:51 PM PDT
A 16-year-old girl whose misidentified body languished in a morgue for a month, while her family searched for her, died from an asthma attack she suffered as she was restrained and raped, officials said Friday. Tiana Rice was reported missing Dec. 30, when she didn't return to her Bronx home after going to Brooklyn to meet someone she had gotten to know online, police said.

Police responded that night to a call about an unconscious woman at an abandoned Brooklyn home, and paramedics pronounced the girl dead. It was Tiana, but she was mistakenly identified via the driver's license of a previous resident of the home, who is still alive.

The 911 call came from a pay phone not far from where Tiana's body was found, clad only in socks, police said.

An anthropologist later realized Tiana's body didn't match the age of the person on the driver's license. The body was identified a month later, after the anthropologist pored over missing-person records.

Meanwhile, Tiana's parents and other family members frantically searched for her.

Her father identified her body Feb. 3. Authorities initially believed she died from an asthma attack, police said.

On Friday, the news for the family got worse: The medical examiner's office ruled Tiana's death a homicide and said she died of cardiopulmonary arrest and acute bronchial asthma brought on by being restrained and sexually assaulted.

No arrests have been made.

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