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Texas Police Seeking Answers in Death of Woman Found Burned Alive

Authorities are searching for the vehicle belonging to victim Melissa Davis, 33, whose body was found after Austin fire officials responded to a grassfire.

By Cydney Contreras
Melissa Davis' vehicle

Investigators with the Austin Police Department are looking for answers after a woman was found burned alive last month.

In the early morning hours of September 29, the Austin Fire Department responded to a report of a grassfire off the 6300 block of Mesa Drive, where they found burned human remains, according to a press release from the City of Austin. Homicide detectives and crime scene specialists processed the scene, later identifying the person whose body was found as 33-year-old Melissa Davis.

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Investigators on the scene "smelled a strong odor of accelerant," according to a search warrant obtained by NBC Austin affiliate KXAN. A police K9 also found a seemingly new lighter near the scene. 

What did Melissa Davis die from?

As for Davis' cause of death, an autopsy showed that there was no obvious trauma to the body and the victim was likely burned alive. However, the warrant also noted that a "knife was placed with the decedent in an attempt to destroy the evidence with the fire."

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When was Melissa Davis last seen alive?

Davis was last seen on September 28, when she reportedly told a family member that she was going to the Apple Store to fix her iPhone, which was not found at the crime scene.  

Police are Searching for Melissa Davis' car

In addition to the cell phone, police are hoping to find Davis' vehicle, a blue 2016 Toyota 4Runner with the license plate KYV3765. 

Davis' family and friends are reeling from the loss of the 33-year-old. Friend Ellie Simmons said that Davis was a "soul sister" and that they had aspirations to run a hostel in Costa Rica, according to ABC Austin affiliate KVUE.

"She was like a shining light in the dark and she made any situation that was harder or darker, lighter," Simmons said.

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Davis obtained her bachelor's degree in Anthropology from the University of North Texas before completing a Master of Science degree in International Sustainable Tourism, according to an online obituary. She later began working with an organization creating sustainable homes in the Philippines and continued to support the organization after returning to the U.S.

Outside of work, Davis was interested in art and being close to nature, often taking camping trips and hiking with her dog Dudley. 

Anyone with any information should contact the Austin Police Department at 512-974-TIPS. Those with info may submit tips anonymously through the Capital Area Crime Stoppers Program by visiting austincrimestoppers.org or calling 512-472-8477. A reward of up to $1,000 may be available for any information that leads to an arrest.

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