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Woman with Peninsula ties killed on Florida interstate

Tattoos help identify woman who in July wandered into a stranger's house to take a shower

Posted: December 8, 2012 - 12:12pm  |  Updated: December 8, 2012 - 9:24pm

A woman who died on a Florida interstate on Wednesday night after a pickup truck hit her was an Alaska woman who had a troubled history with police and ties to the Kenai Peninsula.

Denise Ann Tatum, 35, was standing or crossing Interstate 95 South in St. Augustine, Fla. near State Road 16 when a Ford F-150 pickup truck pulling a trailer hit her around 7 p.m., according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Tatum died at the scene. The driver and passenger of the truck, who were from Pennsylvania, were not harmed. The crash that killed her is under investigation. Charges have not been filed.

St. Augustine is in northeast Florida about 35 miles south of Jacksonville.

Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Dylan Bryan said investigators used fingerprints as well as a description of her tattoos to track down her identity. Tatum had many tattoos across her body, including a “dragon-like tattoo” on her face, according to Bryan.

How or why Tatum came to St. Augustine is not known, but a few months before she died, she was thousands of miles away in Alaska.

Anchorage Police Department public information officer Lt. Dave Parker said police there arrested her in July on a charge of trespassing after they said she wandered into a stranger’s house to take a shower.

Tatum provided different addresses to police, one each from Homer, Anchorage and Colorado Springs, Colo.

“Every time she contacted us she seemed to have a different address,” he said.

Tatum was listed as a Homer resident in an online report from Alaska State Troopers. In April, Tatum was arrested and taken to the Homer jail after troopers said she provided them with a false name as well as for driving without a valid license, according to that report.

Tatum was also a suspect in a stalking case involving a consulting business in Anchorage that began in 2004, Parker said. Someone made harassing phone calls and sent letters to someone at the business. The letters came from a hospital in Washington. Police said Tatum had been a patient in a hospital in Washington at that time. More calls were made in August. No one was charged in the case.

“The case was left as a pending case, but apparently she left the state,” Parker said.

Tatum was also listed as a missing person for a short time. In May, a family member from Alabama went to visit her in Anchorage, and shortly after lost contact with her and reported her missing, Parker said. Police were able to contact her.

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alaska 12/10/12 - 12:51 pm
She may have had a troubled

She may have had a troubled past, but did it need to be in a story on her death?

Ginamariecolek 12/11/12 - 04:04 am
I think I met her

If she is the girl I have not seen a pic but I remember my daughter talked to her this summer and told her that the tattoo was pretty on her face. She was nice. I never asked her name. I saw her walking around soldotna a few times this summer carrying just one large bag she appeared to be homeless. I am sorry to hear she has passed she seemed to be a nice girl

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 12/11/12 - 04:35 pm
Small World

When we think of how they identified this girl it makes us all aware of just how small our world is and the knowledge they have about all of us, even tattoo's are used to identify some one like this girl who had been lost to her family for a while.
The thing is that all of us can go just as this girl did and at any second and any where in the world when our number is up.
We all will face death some day and the question is do you really understand that concept and are you ready for this any second affair that could come at any time with out notice or delay. Hopefully her suffering in this world is over as well as all of her family who worried nonstop for her.
Sad, but death happens.

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