Woman's body found near Highway 503 in Battle Ground

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: May 11, 2012, 5:28 PM

 
Woman's body found
photoPolice cordon off part of Southwest 10th Avenue in Battle Ground after the discovery of a woman's body in a ditch near the roadway.

(/The Columbian)

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BATTLE GROUND — A woman’s body was found Friday afternoon in a ditch off a heavily traveled portion of Southwest 10th Avenue in Battle Ground, city officials said.

Officials did not identify the woman, but friends of a 23-year-old who went missing Wednesday in the city feared the worst at the scene and on the Internet, in the hours after the gruesome discovery was made.

Around 3:10 p.m., a passer-by reported seeing a body in a ditch about 50 feet away from the northbound lanes of Southwest 10th, also known as Highway 503, about a quarter mile south of Main Street. It was unclear how long the woman had been in the ditch or how she died, Battle Ground spokeswoman Bonnie Gilberti said.

Investigators with the Battle Ground Police Department and Clark County Major Crimes Unit spent the next several hours inside Gardner Oaks Park searching for evidence. Police cordoned off an area from the road’s shoulder to about 100 to 150 yards off road in a grassy field with white oaks.

Emergency personnel removed the woman’s body around 6:35 p.m. The portion of the ditch where the woman’s body was found appeared to be overgrown with grass. It did not appear to have standing brown water like other portions of the same ditch farther northbound.

Northbound traffic on the road moved slowly for hours. At least eight police vehicles blocked the right lane at varying times.

Police directed bicyclists and children passing through the sidewalk area or through the fields to turn around. These instances lessened as the hours passed.

‘Is that Tatyana?’

Sometime after 5 p.m., a young woman with dark hair approached a police officer. “Is that Tatyana?” she asked. The officer’s response was not audible.

The woman tearily waved off an interview request and walked in the direction of Main Street.

Tatyana is Tatyana Tupikova, a 23-year-old last seen around 3 p.m. Wednesday in her home near Albertsons on West Main Street, according to a Facebook group — “Help Us Find Tatyana Tupikova” — started after she went missing. The woman told her family she intended to meet friends for frozen yogurt at Yo Factory near Wilco on East Main Street. She left on foot but never arrived at her destination, according to information on her missing poster.

Tatyana stands 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds, the poster said. The Ukraine native has brown hair, hazel green eyes and speaks with a Russian accent.

Gilberti reiterated around 8 p.m. that police had not confirmed the deceased woman’s identity.

“I understand there was a report of a missing woman made at the police department last night, but I don’t have any more information,” Gilberti said earlier in the evening when asked about Tupikova’s disappearance.

A quiet area

Dale Lee’s first thought when he saw the police tape was someone had wrecked near his house. It was shortly after 3 p.m. The 45-year-old was returning home from his job delivering heavy equipment to businesses.

As Lee traveled south on Southwest 10th Avenue closer to his house, he did not see the telltale signs of a wreck — skid marks or grass kicked up.

So he went to the nearby Chevron in search of information. There he learned a dead body was in the ditch across the four-lane highway from his driveway.

“Just what I wanted to hear,” the 45-year-old said ruefully.

The 600 block of Southwest 10th Avenue — where the woman’s body was found — is quiet, except for the occasional coyote, Lee said. In his two years of living in the house, the only time he observed police in the area was to catch speeders, he added.

Lee estimated 98 percent of the people who walked the highway’s sidewalks did so on the northbound side. He struggled to understand how the woman met her fate.

“It sucks,” he concluded.