Police believe body might be Scott woman
The body of a woman found shot to death inside her burning minivan near Nashville early Friday has been tentatively identified as a Scott woman reported missing earlier this week, a medical examiner in Tennessee said.
Dental records will be used to confirm that the dead woman is Paula M. Lanz, 39, said Dr. Bruce Levy, the president and CEO of Forensic Medical Management Services PLC, which provides medical examiner services for the Nashville metropolitan area.
Allegheny County homicide detectives and investigators from the Metropolitan Nashville police department are investigating the slaying. No one has been charged.
Paula Lanz’s estranged husband, Henry R. Lanz, 40, of Mt. Lebanon, was arraigned in Night Court yesterday on charges of violating a protection-from-abuse order that she obtained against him in 2005. He had already been convicted once, last year, of violating that order.
Paula Lanz, the mother of two and a regional sales representative for a furniture company, had been shot twice in the head and was dead before her vehicle was burned, said Levy, who performed the autopsy yesterday afternoon.
It is not known where the shooting occurred or how long Lanz had been dead before the fire began, he said.
The body was found inside the tailgate area of the Kia Sedona, which was registered in her name, said Metropolitan Nashville Police Capt. Rich Foley.
Allegheny County Police said Lanz was reported missing Monday and that she was believed to be driving the Sedona.
The minivan was spotted by a tow truck driver at about 2:30 a.m. yesterday near the rear of a tractor-trailer parking lot about 8 miles northwest of downtown Nashville, and a few miles from Interstate 40, Foley said.
“When the firemen got there, the (vehicle) was fully engulfed. All four tires were burning,” said Foley, an Upper St. Clair native. “When the fire was extinguished, they found the body inside.”
“It was pretty obvious to us that it was foul play,” said Foley, explaining that several pieces of evidence were found in and around the vehicle. He did not elaborate.
It was unknown how long the minivan had been parked in the lot, Foley said. There is a fence around the lot but no gate at the entrance, he said.
Allegheny County Court records show that Lanz and her husband had each sought protection-from-abuse orders in 2005. Each was accused of threatening to beat and kill the other.
Henry Lanz pleaded guilty last May to criminal contempt for violating the PFA and was sentenced to six months in jail. The sentence was suspended.
The court order in that case showed that Paula Lanz had custody of the couple’s two daughters, Alexa, 5, and Abbey, 2.
Henry Lanz is accused of violating the court order again Thursday, three days after Paula Lanz was reported missing. A criminal complaint states that he was found at his estranged wife’s home.
Following his arraignment last night, he was jailed in lieu of $750,000 bond to await a preliminary hearing.