The man who drove his dead girlfriend across the country, with his 93-year-old mother in the back, has been identified as Detroit resident Ray Tomlinson. The 26-hour road trip started off from Arizona with Tomlinson his mother and his girlfriend, whose name has not been released. Somewhere along the route, the girlfriend died of a suspected drug overdose, but Tomlinson said “love” kept his foot on the pedal.
The corpse rode shotgun, with a seatbelt and even sunglasses on, for hours until the trio arrived in Detroit last Monday night. The 31-year-old woman died en route, but Tomlinson said he did not want to just leave her body in a random hospital, and after doing an Internet search on his phone, thought he understood that he had 48-hours to report a death to authorities. He was determined to return her to her home in Michigan.
“I cared too much for her,” he said.
While no official cause of death has been released, the woman is suspected to have died from a prescription drug overdose. An empty bottle of OxyContin was found in Tomlinson’s car. Officials have said that no foul play is suspected and Tomlinson has not been charged with anything.
The NY Daily News reported that the 62-year-old Tomlinson “met the woman, who was homeless, last year while she waited for her boyfriend to get out of prison. He helped her get back on her feet, he said, and let her stay with him.”
According to ABC7, the woman, half the age of Tomlinson, was “hospitalized a total of nine times in Arizona for mental health and drug problems.” After a stint in rehab, the two took off for Michigan with Tomlinson's mother. The woman is suspected to have died somewhere in Oklahoma or Texas.
The body had begun to decompose by the time they arrived in Detroit. An autopsy and toxicology results are pending.
Tomlinson said he should have done things differently, but panicked and also was concerned for his mother, who has been under his care for the last 10 years. “I had a 92-year-old that does not travel very well,” said Tomlinson. “The priority was to get [his mother] home and in a safe place.”
Tomlinson said he was afraid that if he stopped, authorities “would have impounded my vehicle, they would have probably incarcerated me to do an investigation… I loved her very much,” he added.
According to the NY Post, "when officers arrived Tuesday at his son’s home in Warren, just north of Detroit, Tomlinson was weeping on the curb and his mother was in her wheelchair in the back of the van. The corpse was in the front passenger seat wearing a seatbelt and sunglasses."
“She obviously had been dead for at least 24 hours in screeching heat,” Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green said Wednesday.