I wouldnt waste my time talking to the lady until the very last thing. If a lien was filed, and the car was reposessed (on paper anyway) the lady has no part in this car, except to maybe fill in a few blanks of information-----if she is a "little ole lady", she, more than likely, dosnt understand what actually happened. Get the VIN# first and check with the state or county DMV------that can no doubt be done on-line. Maybe carfax can shed some light. Usually someone on this board posts a link or has an open account that is willing to run the VIN for you. Again, dont waste your time with her until you have looked at the DMV and/or lienholder. She cant give you "permission" to do anything, nor can she "deny" you anything, except maybe to come onto her property to look at it----its out of her hands---entirely. With a lawyer, she could probably get back into the fight, but that would cost more than the car is worth. I'm sure the car is "abandoned", all you have to do is find if a procedure is available to clear title.
Sure would be great if a member in your state or county, that is familiar with these matters could help you with the "legwork" (telephone legwork at that).