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Body found in Cape Fear River belongs to Linden mother

Posted May 27, 2012
Updated May 28, 2012

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— The body of a woman was found in the Cape Fear River near Campbellton Landing in Fayetteville Sunday afternoon, police said.

The woman was positively identified Monday as Heather Nicole Smith, 30, of Linden. The cause of death has not been determined and authorities have not said whether they suspect foul play.

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.

Her boyfriend of four years said Smith, a mother of four, was battling a pain pill addiction. Michael Overby, who is also the father of two of Smith's children, said 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."

He said he last saw Smith Thursday night and that nothing seemed out of the ordinary.\

Body found in Cape Fear River belongs to Linden mother Body found in Cape Fear River belongs to Linden mother

Smith's family members were traveling to North Carolina from Florida Monday to be a part of the investigation.

Overby said they have many of the same questions he does. 

"Hopefully I can find some answers (about) what's going on (and) try to stay strong for my kids," he said.

Fayetteville police responded to the scene, near 1122 Person St., around 1 p.m. Sunday after a 911 caller reported seeing a body floating in the river. Police handed the case over to the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

The body was sent to the state Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy, which will determine how Smith died.


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  • justcommonsense Jun 4, 2012

    Thank you larterl for pointing out the obvious fact that the picture is a mugshot and not provided by any family member.

    I'm sure it will be a while before anyone knows for sure what happened...if ever. It could very well turn out that no foul play was involved at all. None of us here know anymore than the LEO's at this point.

    So sad.

  • Fireflies Rock Jun 4, 2012

    such a sad story; the kids will probably be split up. Not sure why people are blaming the boyfriend for the picture; it looks like a mug shot of some sort, and was probably provided by the police for the story

  • ehargrove30 May 29, 2012

    Well I can't even believe this picture of you. you were a very beautiful woman and had an outgoing personality. I cant understand why the man who said he loved you would try and paint a picture of you like that. Regrdless of what was going on with you, you were a daughter, a mother and a friend. May you rest in Peace....

  • lorrietdd May 29, 2012

    Pretty pathetic the boyfriend couldn't provide a better picture for her to be remembered/seen in the public eye. Seems to me like he is trying to portray her as an addict so people think badly of her. Her pill addiction has NOTHING to do with this story and could have been left unsaid! So sad. My heart aches for her family and her children. RIP Heather. You will be missed!

  • kristy0641 May 29, 2012

    Heather i pray that we find some answers as to why this happened and who did it. We are all still in shock and can't believe this. May you rest in peace

  • itsmyownopinion May 29, 2012

    "She loves her kids. She loves them with all her heart," he said. "She was trying her hardest, but she wasn't succeeding."

    This is so sad. I hope and pray that he is not involved in her death in any way and is a good father to the children. I cannot imagine what my life would have been like had I lost my mother at a young age.

  • greg69innc May 29, 2012

    I hope her kids and family are able to find the answers and gain some peace eventually through this as this tragedy is so sensless.

  • jwms32 May 29, 2012

    May this young lady rest in peace...but most of all, I pray for the children she has left behind. Pain pill addiction and sales run rampid in Linden. You can find them on every corner and street just about. It's wrapped up in it and it seems nothing is being done. It's very sad.

  • halfpint1552 May 29, 2012

    That's the best picture they could find of her? I pray that her children will get through this with some peace and may the truth be discovered in her death.