Local News

Police don't suspect foul play in App State student's death

Posted September 15, 2014 6:13 a.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2014 7:12 p.m. EDT

— Police say that they have not found anything yet to suggest that foul play was involved in the death of Appalachian State University freshman whose body was found near campus Saturday.

Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford said in a statement Monday afternoon that a letter that appears to have been written by Anna Marie Smith was found with her body in a heavily wooded area off campus, and despite belief that she might have been the victim of a homicide, detectives have no information leading them to believe she was.

"In fact, there are factors to indicate that Ms. Smith was intent on harming herself," Crawford said.

Investigators, however, are looking at all possibilities surrounding the 18-year-old's death, as they would in any investigation, Crawford said.

He declined to talk about what was in the letter or to provide any other details of the investigation, saying only that the new details were aimed at easing anxiety of Boone residents and the Appalachian State community.

Detectives hope preliminary findings of an autopsy, that was scheduled Monday, will shed some light on what happened to her.

"We have much to do in this case and must look at all possibilities," Crawford said. "Therefore, we cannot prematurely arrive at any conclusions."

Smith's roommate reported her missing Sept. 3, and Appalachian State Police Chief Gunther Doerr said investigators looked into Smith's report of an assault at the beginning of their investigation into her disappearance.

They learned Smith had attended an off-campus gathering of about a half-dozen students in late August, but there was no evidence of a sexual attack, he said.

Authorities did establish that something had left Smith in an "anguished" state, Doerr said, but he declined to be more specific.

Her remains were found Saturday morning off of Poplar Grove Road at the west end of the town, along with her driver's license and student identification card.

Hundreds of people gathered Sunday night in Archdale, near Smith's hometown of High Point, for a candlelight vigil in her honor

Sunflowers were everywhere at the vigil. Smith had a tattoo of a sunflower on her chest, and friends said it came to symbolize her personality and life.

"Although we may have lost a beautiful angel at such a young age, God has a plan for everything, and I strongly believe everything happens for a reason," friend Kinzi Hilton said during the vigil.