A 22-year-old Syosset woman – reported missing several weeks ago – was found dead early Tuesday morning inside her car and authorities are classifying her death “an apparent suicide,” Nassau County police said March 11.
Insp. Kenneth Lack, the police department’s chief spokesman, said Jasmine Joseph was found shortly after midnight wedged between the seats in her car, a 2012 Nissan Altima, which was parked at the Syosset Plaza on Jericho Turnpike near Cedar Street.
“It appears the victim committed suicide,” Lack said Tuesday at a news conference at Nassau County police headquarters in Mineola. “The victim apparently inhaled a noxious substance.”
Lack declined to say what type of “noxious substance” was found and said Joseph’s official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner. A law enforcement source familiar with the investigation said at least one helium tank was found in the vehicle.
Although police did not provide a timeline as to the time of death, Lack said Joseph’s body appeared to have been in the car for “an extensive period of time.”
Police had been searching for Joseph since she was last seen leaving her Syosset home on Feb. 24. At the time, she told her family she was headed to class at New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury. The university said Joseph had not been enrolled in classes since May 2013.
According to her family and authorities, Joseph called her parents around 5 p.m. that night and told them she was studying at the college library and should be home within an hour. That was the last time her parents spoke with her, they told reporters last week.
“She was somewhat deceptive in her personal life, which made the investigation more complicated,” Lack said. He said police officers had conducted an extensive search, but gathered information that she may have fled from Long Island.
A police source said investigators received additional information last week that Joseph may have been suffering from depression. Lack declined to say whether she left a suicide note and, citing an ongoing investigation, would not provide any details about a possible motive.
When officers found Joseph’s vehicle early Tuesday, they called for a robot to determine whether it was safe to open the car, a police spokesman said. After opening the car, investigators found her lying down between the front and back seats of the sedan, “almost across the floor,” Lack said.
Joseph’s parents could not be reached by phone Tuesday. Her father, Sony Joseph, told WPIX-TV last week: “She was always happy…I don’t know what happened.”