The body of a 30-year-old woman was found buried on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland, with just an arm showing above the sand, police say.
"They alerted a city employee, who then alerted police, and we immediately arrived to begin a death investigation," said Lindsay Richard of the Ocean City Police Department.
At about the same time, the woman's mother and stepfather were alerted police she was missing.
The remains have been identified as Ashley O'Connor, of Plano, Texas, said Ocean City communications manager Jessica Waters. O'Connor was vacationing with her family.
O'Connor got separated from her mother and stepfather about 2 a.m. that morning, Waters said.
"The last time she was seen, she was walking out onto the beach alone," Richard said.
The body was removed from the sand about 4:15 p.m., city officials said, and state police crime scene technicians assisted Ocean City police's Forensics Services Unit.
O'Connor's death appears to be accidental, although they have not yet ruled out anything, Waters said.
"At this time, we don’t think there were any suspicious circumstances surrounding this incident," Richard said. "So no, I don’t believe there’s any reason for the public to be nervous about being on the beach at night."
One possibility they are looking at is the victim was asleep or unconscious on the beach and was accidentally run over by one of the tractors that comb debris from the beach each night, News4's Mark Segraves reported.
Maryland's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine a cause and manner of death.
"We’re really anxiously waiting for the autopsy report from the officer of the chief medical examiner in Baltimore," Richard said. "I think that will really give us much more details on what might have happened."