Allegheny County police investigate woman's 'clearly suspicious' death in Etna

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Police investigating the death of an Etna woman detained her boyfriend Wednesday after they found "inconsistencies" in his story that she attempted to commit suicide, police said.

Etna police were called to the apartment above the One Higgins Street bar about 1:05 a.m. Wednesday after the boyfriend of Jessica Miller, 31, told a 911 call-taker that she had attempted to hang herself with a belt.

When police and medics arrived, they found Ms. Miller unresponsive in the backyard. They noticed a belt nearby and Ms. Miller's boyfriend told "a version of events that had some inconsistencies," said Allegheny County homicide Lt. Andrew Schurman.

Medics took Ms. Miller to the emergency room at UPMC St. Margaret, where she was pronounced dead at 1:41 a.m., according to the Allegheny County medical examiner's office.

Allegheny County homicide detectives took Ms. Miller's boyfriend, whose name they had not released Wednesday night, to their Point Breeze headquarters for questioning while they awaited the results of an autopsy.

A supervisor in the Allegheny County medical examiner's office said he expects the cause and manner of Ms. Miller's death to be released today.

Lt. Schurman said investigators noticed some ligature marks on Ms. Miller that are consistent with suicides when people attempt to wrap something around their neck. He said, however, that, "It is a suspicious death, and we are treating it as a homicide investigation."

Lt. Schurman said the couple lived together in the apartment above the bar. One neighbor, who did not want to be named, said the couple fought constantly -- including early Wednesday morning.

But another neighbor, Christine Linn, 52, said the couple had a solid relationship and she "couldn't fix" her "head around what happened."

Ms. Linn, who worked with Ms. Miller, said she was "a really sweet person. It's sad she died at a young age."

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438. Kelton Brooks: kbrooks@post-gazette.com. Molly Born contributed. First Published August 14, 2013 8:15 AM


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