Missing Texas Woman Found Dead in Ventilation Duct

PHOTO: A missing Austin woman was found dead in an air duct. Police say Jamie Minor, 26, may have been trying to get into a restaurant.PlayKVUE Austin/ABC News
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The body of a missing Austin, Texas, woman has been found inside a downtown restaurant's ventilation duct.

Jamie Minor, 26, was last seen around 8 p.m. May 23, when she was sent home from work for erratic behavior. She likely got trapped in the duct that night, police said.

Surveillance video from Perry's Steakhouse, located on the ground floor of Austin's Norwood Tower, shows Minor trying to enter the restaurant through a locked side door and a door from the adjacent parking garage. When neither opened, she climbed into the building's duct system from the fifth floor of the parking garage, police said.

"She couldn't move forward and she couldn't move back, so she was trapped inside the duct work," Austin Police Department Commander Julie O'Brien told ABC affiliate KVUE. "That area is located in a part of the building where it's not readily accessible to anyone so noises inside of the duct work couldn't be heard."

Why Minor, who had reportedly struggled with bipolar disorder since her early 20s, avoided the restaurant's front door is unclear.

Supervisors at the W Hotel, where Minor worked as a hostess, said she was behaving strangely that day -- so strangely that they called her a ride home. But Minor left before the ride arrived, walking five blocks to Perry's Steakhouse, where she once worked, police said.

Maintenance workers at the Norwood Tower discovered some of Minor's personal belongings near one of the ducts June 2.

Austin police broke into the duct system Saturday and discovered Minor's body trapped between the first and second floors. Had Minor not become trapped, the duct system would have led her to the restaurant's office.

Minor's family, which lives in nearby Bee Caves, Texas, reported her missing to the Bee Caves Police Department June 2 and plastered "missing" posters all over Austin. Family members reported Minor missing to Austin police on June 20.

"What made me think I should be extra concerned was that she was never away from the house for more than three weeks," Minor's mom, Pamela Minor, told KVUE the day before her body was found.

Detectives don't believe foul play was involved but hope to speak to anyone who may have seen Minor between 8 and 10 p.m. on Monday, May 23.

"I am just heartbroken she made the choices she did," Pamela Minor told local reporters. "I am very saddened she couldn't get to safety. She probably became frantic. I am very saddened by the suffering she went through."