FORNEY, TEXAS — A missing Forney mother found deceased in Farmers Branch on Thursday most likely died of an overdose and her two children subsequently perished due to a heat stroke after being left in their car seats in the back of their vehicle for more than a day according to law enforcement officials and the family.
Natalie Chambers, 31, was reported missing by family members to the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) late Wednesday afternoon after she and her two daughters, 4-year-old Izabel and 2-year-old Elise, never arrived at playdate in Grapevine earlier in the day.
Friends and family were immediately worried about Chamber’s disappearance because of a history of drug and alcohol abuse and her recent bouts with depression according to a family member who did not wish to be identified.
“Natalie had struggled in the past but had gotten some help and was an amazing mom. Recently, during COVID she had become more depressed and had obviously relapsed,” the family member tells inForney.com. 'We are all devastated that the girls had to witness such a tragedy and suffer themselves."
Friends, family and law enforcement spent Wednesday night into Thursday morning searching frantically for Chambers and her children. The case did not meet the qualifications for an Amber alert according to authorities.
According to doorbell camera video first obtained by WFAA Channel 8 reporter Rebecca Lopez, the footage shows Chambers leaving her Forney home early Wednesday with a time stamp at 8:06 a.m. for a playdate in her hometown of Grapevine.
These are the last images to capture Chambers and her daughters all alive.
Farmers Branch police said the KCSO investigators asked them to search an area where Chambers might have been travelling, and that is when they found her SUV.
Police say they found Chambers’ vehicle in a parking lot near 635 and Midway Road and found all three of them deceased inside their blue Ford Escape just after 10 a.m. Thursday morning.
“Our officers responded to the location, checked the area, and actually located the vehicle in the 4300 block of LBJ freeway,” Farmers Branch Police Department Officer Steve Rutherford said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
“Upon contacting the occupants of the vehicle, the officers observed there were three occupants inside the vehicle and the tragic discovery was made that all three occupants of the vehicle were deceased,” Rutherford said.
Multiple sources closes to the investigation tell inForney.com that there were no apparent signs of foul play, no suspect is being sought and that evidence collected at the scene indicated an apparent overdose of a undisclosed substance.
Rutherford and KCSO public information officer Jolie Stewart told multiple media outlets that the investigation and grim scene was emotionally difficult for officers to process.
According to video surveillance obtained by investigators near the furniture store parking lot, footage captures Chamber’s vehicle pull in, park and the engine turned off just after 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Reportedly no one approached or exited the vehicle until it was found by FBPD patrolman more than 24 hours later sources say. Temperatures reached a sweltering 93 degrees Wednesday afternoon in Dallas according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
Chambers’ sister, Jessica Purcell, released the following statement to CBS 11 reporter Erin Jones on the situation after the discovery:
“Natalie was hilarious and charismatic and never met a stranger. She fiercely loved her girls and was an inspirational mother. I always used to tell her I’m glad she did it (motherhood) first so I can steal parenting tips from her. Izabel and Elise were happy and so very smart and witty. Izabel got that her mom’s sassiness and Elise got her humor. They were beautiful and perfect. Our hearts are completely shattered.”
Farmers Branch Police Department and KCSO investigators have declined to publicly comment on the cause of death, citing an official autopsy report is expected from the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office this week.
According to local substance abuse and mental health experts, relapses and overdoses have seen a steep rise as more people were forced out of their jobs and daily norms and into their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a tragic story, like so many we hear, but what I want addicts and those struggling with addiction to know, is there is Hope,” Dr. David Henderson, Medical Director for the Treehouse Recovery Center and Vertava Health in Scurry, Texas tells inForney.com. Dr. Henderson is a published author and local expert on substance abuse and addiction and is not involved in the Chambers investigation.
Dr. Henderson says that a 21% percent increase in the use of prescription antidepressants and the listing of prescription drug Zoloft on the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Drug shortage list since the beginning of March is proof that the mental and emotional health of our community is struggling.
“The suffering is real right now,” Dr. Henderson says, “Those that are suffering have to know that on the other side of the pain and helplessness is a place of redeemable valuable. There is redemption beyond the point of suffering, but you must be ready and willing to do the work to get there.”
Henderson said that virtual and online counseling can be extremely helpful when people might be unable to seek inpatient resources. However, Henderson said the stigma of mental health and addiction continue to delay people from getting the resources they need.
“If you wanted to focus on your physical health get healthy and you hired a trainer to help you; no one would say a word,” Henderson says. “If you wanted to focus on your mental health and you wanted to hire an expert who could train you to navigate your emotions and how you cope with life; then people might have something to say. It’s not right, nor is it fair.”
Dr. Henderson also says that cost should never be a deterrent for those seeking emotional support or help with substance abuse.
“There are resources available. If you are struggling, just pick up the phone and call,” Henderson says.
A Go Fund Me page has been created to help Chamber’s husband with funeral expenses.