The decomposing body of a woman found in a tree in suburban Sydney last month was Monday identified as missing American tourist Melissa Joy Dietzel.
An arborist made the gruesome discovery of a woman’s body on January 12, after reports of a foul smell coming from the vicinity of the tree.
For several weeks, the identity of the body remained a mystery, until police solved it, largely from the American-branded clothing she was wearing when she died, The (Sydney) Daily Telegraph reported.
Detectives consulted with US authorities, who identified Dietzel through the use of dental records and missing persons files.
Her family in the US said she had been missing for more than a month when her body was found, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The 22-year-old, from Redlands, Calif., had traveled to Sydney last October or November after she graduated from Brigham Young University in Utah, a friend — speaking on the condition of anonymity — told The Herald.
“She was big about the outdoors so she was stoked about being [in Australia]. She went to the national parks a lot,” the friend said.
The friend added that Dietzel came from a large family in the US, with up to nine siblings.
It is believed Dietzel — who lost her job as a nanny in Sydney — had been homeless and had lived in the oak tree in Sydney’s eastern suburbs where her body was found.
Police believe she may have been dead in the tree for up to a fortnight before her body was discovered.
Her death is not being treated as suspicious, but as a tragic suicide.