Suspicious Sumter Co. death under investigation - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Suspicious Sumter Co. death under investigation

August 20, 2007

Sumter County -- Investigators are trying to solve a mysterious death in Sumter County.

A woman was found dead inside her home over the weekend. Investigators won't say how they think she died, but they do say her death is suspicious

Deputies were still on the scene Monday morning outside a mobile home at 353 Middle River Road.

Saturday morning, a Sumter County Sheriff's deputy was called to this location where 47-year-old Melanie Kay Strickland resided. Strickland's daughter was concerned after family and friends could not get in touch with her mother.

"The deputy arrived on the scene. The daughter and the deputy were let into the home by the land owner. The daughter went to front part of the house, and when she was unable to find her, she went to the back part of the trailer. That's where she found the victim," said Sumter County Sheriff Pete Smith.

But how long Strickland had been dead and how she died is part of on going investigation. At this point it remains unclear if, in fact, foul play was involved.

"Pending the autopsy, and the forensic evidence at the crime scene, that's one of the things  that we looked at. We notified the GBI to come in and get some second opinions, " said Smith.

Even though this death is still under investigation, Sheriff Pete Smith did say that deputies had been dispatched to this location sometime in the past. He also said the he and Strickland had discussed taking out a temporary protective order some two weeks prior to her death.

He said, "We talked about some things that could be done as far as a temporary protective order if she needed one, but she never came to my office."

The person or persons discussed in Strickland's potential TPO remains unclear. So far no suspects have been mentioned in the case, pending the results of an autopsy.

"I don't want to speculate. There are certain things in the investigation that just didn't appear to look right. That's why I summoned the help of the GBI and the crime scene tech, to make sure that we cover all the bases," said Smith.

For now, Strickland's mobile home remains an active crime scene; a crime scene that perhaps will shed some answers as to how she died.

Sheriff Smith says investigators gathered significant evidence at the scene. He says it could take several weeks to get autopsy results and determine the exact cause of death.

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