Chapel Hill Police Chief Brian Curran said a resident on North Street spotted the blue 2005 Toyota Highlander with Georgia license plate AIV-6690 at about 2 p.m. near the intersection of North and Hillsborough streets
The SUV was taken to the town's operations center for processing, so detectives could look for more information about Carson's death. Curran said it did not appear to be damaged.
"We saw it on the news, and we heard the woman is the president of the student body, and she (his wife) goes, 'Oh my God, I just found the car,'" Toby Rice, of Chapel Hill, told The Associated Press. "She called 911. She took pictures of it with her Blackberry."
Police found Carson's body at about 5:15 a.m. Wednesday after responding to reports of gunshots in the area of Davie Circle. She had been shot multiple times, at least once in the head.
She was dressed in a T-shirt, sweatpants and tennis shoes and had no identification with her. Carson's roommates, who said they last saw her alive at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, contacted police Wednesday evening, and then identified her body, Curran said.
Carson had stayed at home to do homework while her roommates went out, he said. However, Curran would not comment on a possible timeline of events in the four-hour period leading up to the discovery of her body.
Investigators still have no motive or suspects in the case and urged the public to call police at 919-968-2760 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515 if they think they have information that might help.
Curran said investigators are particularly interested to hear from anyone who might have seen the SUV between 1:30 a.m. Wednesday and midday Thursday.
Curran also said investigators had been in contact with Auburn, Ala., police, who are investigating the shooting death of Auburn University student Lauren Burk. At this point in the investigation, he said, it appeared unlikely the two deaths were connected.
Burk, an 18-year-old freshman from Marietta, Ga., was found wounded on Alabama Highway 147 around 9 p.m. Tuesday, and Auburn police said her Honda Civic was found engulfed in flames at the campus about 20 minutes later. She died at a hospital.
Carson was UNC's student body president, and her death brought grief to the campus, where about 5,000 students, faculty and staff gathered for a brief memorial service Thursday afternoon. Thousands also attended a candlelit vigil Thursday evening at the popular campus gathering spot, The Pit.