State medical examiner: 2-year-old drowned

Jessica Smith

The Oregon State Medical Examiner has determined that 2-year-old Isabella Smith died from asphyxiation by drowning.

Dr. Karen Gunson also found “high levels” of an ingredient in over-the-counter antihistamine sedatives used for allergies, Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis said today. Marquis said the unusually high dose is considered a contributing factor, but not part of the cause of death, which was ruled a homicide by Gunson Aug. 3.

“It’s consistent with the child being drugged and there being no evidence of bruising,” Marquis said.

Jessica Smith left her daughter Isabella in a room at the Surfsand Resort in Cannon Beach where she was discovered Aug. 1. Smith’s 13-year-old daughter, Alana Smith, was found lying nude next to the toddler with severe cuts to her neck.

The 40-year-old Washington woman is scheduled to be arraigned in Clatsop County Circuit Court at 1:15 p.m. today on an indictment returned by the grand jury last week. She has been charged with one count of aggravated murder and one count of attempted aggravated murder.

Statements made by Alana Smith were released Monday in court affidavits and allege her mother helped cut her throat and drowned her 2-year-old sister because the children did not want to live with their father.

Her mother then planned to take her own life, Alana Smith said, in information that was included in a returned search warrant affidavit.

Jessica Smith was arrested Aug. 3 after authorities located her on a logging road 15 miles east of Cannon Beach. A U.S. Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter spotted her walking next to the gold Chevy Suburban authorities had been searching for all weekend.

Cannon Beach Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn was first on the scene Aug. 1. He discovered Alana Smith with cuts to both sides of her neck. She told Schermerhorn “(we) had put the baby in the bathtub while the infant was sleeping.” The 13-year-old also told the police chief that they were afraid her father was going to “do something to them,” according to the affidavit, which was submitted in Clatsop County Circuit Court by Astoria Police Detective Sgt. Eric Halverson, a member of the Clatsop County Major Crime Team.

While being transported to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Alana Smith told medical staff in the LifeFlight helicopter that she wanted to “cut her throat and wrists and that her mother had assisted her,” according to the court document.

Jessica Smith separated from her husband, Gregory Smith, in April and she had been living in Vancouver, Wash., with their two daughters.

Gregory Smith filed for divorce on June 30. In late July, he requested a custody evaluation after receiving a flurry of text messages from Jessica Smith and what he thought was a concerning voicemail from Alana Smith that said she was tormented by the thought of him in their lives.

In a petition filed in Clark County, Gregory Smith said he had no history of a negative relationship with his daughters and thought Jessica Smith was trying to manipulate them.

Alana Smith told Oregon State Police detectives that her mother used an “numbing agent” on her neck before helping her cut herself. She also told them that her mother had chosen to allegedly drown Isabella “because it was more peaceful” than with the initially proposed razor blade.

Halverson also noted in the returned affidavit that notes written by Jessica Smith were found in the room at the Surfsand Resort. Smith explained the “circumstances” of her 2-year-old daughter’s death and alleged cutting of Alana Smith. The notes indicated that she had planned to kill herself with the razor blades, but didn’t have the “time or strength” after assisting her daughter, according to the affidavit.

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