UPDATE: Body identified as missing 22-year-old woman

(ABC 6 News) – The Rochester Police Department has identified the 22-year-old as a woman who was previously reported missing.

In an email sent Thursday afternoon, the RPD said:

The deceased female discovered yesterday near a snow pile in the parking lot of Gage Elementary School has been identified as 22-year-old Mercedez Christiana Rocha.

The Rochester Police Department was contacted by the Northfield Police Department on January 30th for a welfare check on Rocha, who did not have a known address. Northfield Police Department informed Rochester Police Department that Rocha’s cell phone was pinged in northwest Rochester. Officers searched the area but did not locate Rocha at that time.

Investigators believe Rocha’s body had been covered in snow for several weeks. An autopsy is being conducted to determine the cause of death. There was no obvious trauma observed on the body that could have caused her death, and there is no immediate threat to the public.

The Rochester Police Department said Thursday that it has identified the woman whose body was found Wednesday.

Police said the woman is a 22-year-old. Additional information on the woman’s identity is expected to be provided Thursday afternoon after speaking with the family.

There is no obvious trauma on the woman’s body, according to police. The RPD said it appears the woman’s body had been there for approximately a month or two.

Additional information will be added as it becomes available.

Police said a man walking his dog in the area located the body.

Rochester Police are investigating after a woman’s body was found Wednesday afternoon.

Around 4:40 pm, Rochester Police Department received a report of a deceased person by a snow pile in the parking lot of Gage Elementary School.

According to police, the body of a woman appears to have been there for some time. There is no immediate threat to the public.

The scene is being processed and RPD is working collaboratively with the Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office.

The incident is under investigation.


(ABC 6 News) – There is a heavy police presence near Gage Elementary School in Rochester.

Police have an area in the back of the school cordoned off with police tape. Rochester Police have been on the scene since earlier this afternoon.

Rochester Public Schools sent a note to families, stating that the district was aware of a police presence on the corner of the Gage Elementary School property and that police showed up after school was dismissed for the day.

No School Age Child Care students were in the immediate area.

RPS officials said school will go on as planned Thursday at Gage until further notice.

This is a developing story. ABC 6 has a crew on scene and will provide updates as new information becomes available.