Medical examiner: Woman found in Cape Fear River was strangled
Posted September 5, 2012
Fayetteville, N.C. — A Linden woman found dead in the Cape Fear River in May was strangled, according to the state medical examiner.
The North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released the results Wednesday of an autopsy on Heather Nicole Smith, 30, whose body was discovered in the river near Campbellton Landing in Fayetteville.
Her boyfriend, 44-year-old Michael Eugene Overbee, was charged last week with second-degree murder in her death. Overbee is the father of two of Smith's four children.
The autopsy noted that Smith's body was decomposed, which may have prevented the medical examiner from identifying strangulation injuries. But there were "no features present that would rule out the possibility of this cause of death," the report stated.
The report also noted the presence of alprazolam and methadone, two medications that Smith had been taking by prescription.
In an interview in May, before his arrest, Overbee said Smith was battling a pain pill addiction and that she had been trying to get her life together for her children.
"She loves her kids. She loves them with all her heart," he said. "She was trying her hardest, but she wasn't succeeding."
Smith was identified by her tattoos and jewelry. It wasn't clear whether she had been reported missing or how long the body was in the river.