Friends of Woman Found Dead in Boat Say She Was a Struggling Student

REDDING, Calif. - Friends of Melanie Sue Culpen describe her as a woman working hard to get her life back on the right path.

Neighbors found Culpen's body this past Sunday in a tarp covered boat behind a home on Prince St. in Redding.

First reports said it might be the body of a homeless woman that frequented the area.

We tracked down a group of her friends at Shasta College. They said she wasn't a homeless person, but a fellow student who meant a lot to them.

One of those friends, Carl Kite, was the person who tipped off police that the body they found was that of Melanie Culpen--they confirmed that fact on Monday.

"When people call her a transient, or homeless or something like that," Kite said Thursday, "that just breaks my hear because that was so far from the truth."

Another friend, Ashly Hess, said that Culpen was the type of person to "always put a smile on somebody else's face and that's what everybody will remember of her."

Lucretia "Dee Dee" Winfield said that Culpen actually lived with her boyfriend at the Lorenz Hotel in downtown Redding and that she had been working for In Home Supportive Services. Both of those claims have yet to be verified.

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