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Sheriff releases cause of death of Sally Jane Demarais-Smith

Posted at 1:11 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 19:38:16-05

GREAT FALLS — Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter in a news conference on Wednesday released new information about the death of Sally Jane Demarais-Smith.

Sheriff Slaughter said that the cause of death was a drug overdose, and the manner of death was suicide. He said that medical bottles and letters to family were found near Smith. The drugs in her system were a mix of opioids and tramadol.

He also said she left the car running and sealed up the storage unit so if the drugs didn't kill her, the carbon monoxide would.

"This isn't typical of my releases. I often will contact the media and you guys will typically not run these type of stories. However, due to the amount of media attention regarding this case, I felt this information could help stop any further speculation into the matter,” Slaughter said.

Smith, a 52-year-old mother beloved by the Great Falls community, was reported missing in late September. At the time, police reported that she may have been on her way to the Malta area before being reported missing. GFPD requested a Missing/Endangered Person Alert for Smith from the Montana Department of Justice on September 29.

Smith was found dead on Sunday, October 11th; her body was found inside her 2005 Toyota Corolla in a storage unit just outside of Malmstrom Air Force Base. The storage unit was under the county's jurisdiction — not Malmstrom's — so the Sheriff's Office took the lead on investigating her death.

On October 27th, Sheriff Slaughter said he understood that people were frustrated by the lack of information being released about the investigation, adding that it was still too early to come to any conclusions because the autopsy report had not yet been completed. "With this job, you trust me to do the right thing and to release the right information. It's really important to me that I don't violate that trust and rush a media release which later I may have to recant or change and then create a lack of trust,” Slaughter said.

Smith worked as a speech and language pathologist at Meadow Lark Elementary School. She also worked at the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Clinic and as a spin class instructor at the Peak Health & Wellness Center. She had four children with her husband, Troy Smith. In recent weeks, a Facebook community was set up by her friends and family. More than 4,400 community members have joined.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255 or text 'HOME' to 741741 for help.

From October 14: