A portion of Poplar Grove Road near the ASU campus was closed on Saturday due to developments in the search for Anna Smith. Here's new information today from Boone Police:
The following is a statement from Boone Chief of Police Dana Crawford:
“On September 16, 2014, the Boone Police Department received preliminary information from Dr. Lantz, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on Anna M. Smith. These are only initial findings and other testing will be completed according to Dr. Lantz. Dr. Lantz provided the following information:
• There were no injuries to the head, neck, chest, or pelvic region.
• There were indications of asphyxia.
• The amount of time Anna had been deceased is consistent with the date she was last seen.
• A toxicology examination request has been made to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (this testing could take 6-8 weeks).
We want to reassure the Smith family and the community that we have not completed this investigation, in fact, we are just beginning. We know that this information gives the appearance that this was not a homicide, but we must do everything within our power to make sure. We will continue to work toward the goal of answering as many questions about Anna’s death as possible. We are grateful for the full cooperation of our law enforcement partners to include: the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, The Federal Bureau of Investigation, The ASU Police Department, and the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office.”
The following is a statement from Boone Police on Saturday Sept 13:
On Saturday, September 13, 2014, after the discovery of a deceased individual in a heavily wooded area off Poplar Grove Road in Boone, the Boone Police Department began an investigation into the death of Anna M. Smith. Prior to this point, ASU Police Department had been investigating the disappearance of Anna M. Smith. Tragically, the 18-year-old ASU student was found to be deceased. Due to the fact that she was located off campus Boone Police Department entered the investigation. The following is a statement from Boone Chief of Police Dana Crawford:
“We are all terribly saddened at this discovery. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Ms. Smith. I want to assure the Smith Family and the Boone community that we have begun and will continue to conduct a thorough investigation to find the answers that we all want to know. We have much to do in this case and must look at all possibilities; therefore, we cannot prematurely arrive at any conclusions. Obviously, in a death investigation there are many facts that would not be prudent to release. In fact, releasing sensitive information could hinder an investigation and potentially damage a criminal case if this case were to turn in that direction. I am greatly concerned about the state of anxiety that the citizens of Boone and the students and faculty find themselves in, and I want to address these concerns to the degree possible.
We intend to work this case as any death investigation. At this point we do not have direct information that there is foul play. In fact, there are factors to indicate that Ms. Smith was intent on harming herself. I know this is difficult for family and friends to hear, but these are facts. This is not the time that I would have preferred to release this information; however, it has been referenced that Ms. Smith had been experiencing some emotional difficulties in prior press releases from ASU and even from the family. It is important to note that a letter was found with the body of Anna Smith. To protect the integrity of the investigation we are not prepared to discuss the content of the letter that appears to have been authored by Ms. Smith. We intend to request a forensic analysis of the letter.
Today an autopsy is being conducted by a forensic pathologist and we fully expect that the preliminary findings will shed some light on what happened to Ms. Smith. Other aspects of the autopsy examination will take additional time to analyze. This investigation is in the beginning stages and we will be open and transparent, but please understand that we cannot release information that will jeopardize the case.
Based upon reports that we have heard from community members and media sources, it is obvious to me and my staff that many, if not most, people in the community are under the impression that this case is a homicide. We do not have any information leading us in that direction. The reason that I am reluctantly releasing this information is because I do not want to give the impression that we are not investigating all possibilities- we are. We will pursue the facts, wherever they may lead, to determine what happened to Anna Smith.
We are not investigating this case alone. We will be working with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, and the ASU Police Department. In addition, we will be consulting the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We will all work together to determine how this happened. We continue to receive information and encourage any citizen with information to contact the Boone Police Department.”
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Boone Police Department at 828-268-6900 or High Country Crime Stoppers at 828-268-6959. You may also submit a Crime Stoppers Tip via our website at https://www.tipsubmit.com/webtips.aspx?AgencyID=1251 or text “NCTIP plus your tip” to 274637 (CRIMES).