MILPITAS, Calif. - Police are investigating the death of a woman whose body was found at a landfill in Milpitas last week.
San Jose police officers responded to the Newby Island Resource Recovery Park on June 2 at around 6 a.m. after a report of a suspicious death, according to the police department.
San Jose is among the cities within Santa Clara County that use the landfill, located at 1601 Dixon Landing Road. San Jose police also have jurisdiction over the garbage collection site.
Investigators said employees at the sprawling landfill found the woman's body during processing operations and reported it to the police.
Relatives identified her as LaToya Renee Covington, a mother of three.
Covington's family said her body was found "mangled" on a conveyor belt at the landfill.
"Her body was unrecognizable. Only through fingerprints were we able to determine the remains were actually hers," the family wrote on a GoFundMe page.
Authorities are investigating the circumstances around the woman's death and have very few clues.
On Monday, relatives of Covington came forward to raise awareness about the 35-year-old’s death and pressed for answers.
"She deserves justice. Literally no one deserves this. And I’m not going to let this go," said the victim's cousin, Katrina Martin.
"We went to school together, spent time together. She was a beautiful soul and nice sweet girl," added another cousin, Olukemi Lawal.
Covington's family said she had been living in South Bay homeless encampments since 2016.
They said she had endured childhood abuse at the hands of her parents, coupled with mental health and drug abuse issues, that took a toll on her.
"The last words she said to me was like, ‘I love you cousin.’ And I just knew in my spirit, something wasn’t right," said Lawal.
The victim's family said police believe she was killed.
"They suspect it was a murder. And they even asked me did I know anybody that was at odds with LaToya at that time," said sister Denise Covington. "And I said no, I didn’t know anybody that hated her that much to do that to her."
The coroner will determine Covington's exact cause of death. It t could take up to six months for blood and toxicology tests to come back.
Covington's three children are in foster care.
It's not the first time a body was discovered at the landfill. Two years ago, employees located the body of 33-year-old Allycia Kelley.
In that incident, officers said it appeared that Kelley was transported to the facility via a routine landfill drop-off from a location in San Jose.