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No foul play suspected in woman's death

December 22, 2008

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. -- Evidence of foul play did not surface in a preliminary medical examination of a 76-year-old Silver Spring, Md., woman who was found dead Monday morning in shallow water on the south side of the Shenandoah River, police said.

Mary Ruth Wood's cause of death appears to be natural causes, Harpers Ferry Police Department Chief Donald Buracker said Tuesday.

Death investigators in Morgantown, W.Va., did not find evidence of bruising, trauma or drowning, Buracker said.

"There was nothing out of the ordinary," Buracker said.

Wood was dressed for the outdoors and wearing a backpack. She was found in about 1 1/2 feet of water about 100 yards upstream from the Shenandoah River bridge.

Authorities started looking for the woman after her Buick LeSabre was found Thursday night in a parking lot next to the bridge, Buracker said.

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After the car was found, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park officials checked missing persons reports, but none surfaced for Wood.

On Sunday night, authorities searched the north side of the river near the lower town area of Harpers Ferry, but did not find anyone, officials said.

Rescue crews, including some from the Friendship and Independent fire companies, took up the search again Monday morning on the south side of the river where Chestnut Hill Road turns off U.S. 340 when she was found about 11:40 a.m., officials said.

Anyone with information about Wood may contact the Harpers Ferry Police Department at 304-535-6366.

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