NOEL, Mo. — A woman's decomposed body discovered near a suitcase on a hillside northeast of Noel has been sent to Springfield for an autopsy and determination of her identity and the cause and manner of her death.

McDonald County Sheriff Michael Hall said a bicyclist spotted the body Monday afternoon on a steep hillside along Missouri Highway 59 between Ginger Blue and Noel. There had been significant decomposition, but investigators believe the body is most likely that of a woman in her 20s or 30s, the sheriff said.

A suitcase was recovered near the body that investigators are treating as evidence.

"(The body) was found downhill from the suitcase," the sheriff said. "We believe she was possibly in (the suitcase) at one time."

Hall said he had not been to the scene as yet, but his understanding from those who have been there is that the hillside is a virtual cliff. The sheriff indicated that investigators believe the woman probably died elsewhere and someone disposed of her body down the hillside.

"I do not believe it's the murder scene, no," Hall said of the hillside.

He declined to say if there was any clothing recovered with the body. The sheriff did not have a description of the suitcase that he was prepared to release.

Hall said there are no known missing person cases in McDonald County that would appear to match up with the body on the hillside. The McDonald County Sheriff's Department sent out an advisory to other law enforcement agencies and has been hearing from some with missing person cases that might match up. But none have jumped to the forefront as yet in the death investigation, the sheriff said.

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