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Authorities investigating woman's death

February 28, 2001

Authorities investigating woman's death



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Police in Morgan County, W.Va., Wednesday were investigating the death of an 18-year-old Berkeley Springs, W.Va., woman late Tuesday.

Jessica Anne Miller was pronounced dead at War Memorial Hospital in Berkeley Springs Tuesday evening, according to Dr. Chuck Lopp, Morgan County Medical Examiner.

"At this point there is no obvious, conclusive cause of death," he said.

An autopsy is schedule for today at the West Virginia University at Morgantown, he said. The autopsy itself should take about an hour but toxicology results make take a week or longer if they are needed, he said.

"We're treating it as a homicide for right now," said Deputy Kevin Barney of the Morgan County Sheriff's Office. "We haven't been able to determine how she died."

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Barney said the woman was at a friend's house in the southern part of the county prior to her death. Emergency workers received a call between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tuesday about someone with a breathing problem, Barney said.

When rescue workers arrived at the house, they realized the situation was serious and the police were called, he said.

Miller's body had no visible wounds such as a gunshot or knifing, he said.

Rescuers tried to resuscitate Miller during the ride to the hospital but she never regained consciousness, Lopp said.

"At this point we don't have a clear understanding of the events prior to her going into respiratory arrest," said Lopp.

Authorities "know little about her past medical history," said Lopp.

Troopers and deputies have been working on the case, said Barney.

"We're getting close to being able to issue search and other warrants," he said. He said officers were compiling a list of people they want to talk to about the incident.

"We're going to be doing more interviewing, gathering more evidence about what happened," he said.

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