Suspect in woman’s death at long-stay hotel arrested on murder charge

Crime

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fort Wayne Police have made an arrest in the death of a woman found in a room at a West Coliseum hotel earlier this week.

Police and medics were called at 8:45 a.m. Monday to the Suburban Extended Stay Hotel at 3320 W. Coliseum Blvd., near Interstate 69 and Goshen Road, on an unknown problem.

Terry Smith Jr.

Officers arrived and were escorted to a room at the hotel, where a woman was found – dead.

She was identified as 35-year-old Tiffany I. Ferris of Decatur.

The Allen County Coroner’s Office said the cause and manner of the woman’s death is still pending.

On Thursday, Fort Wayne Police said they were searching for 34-year-old Terry Smith Jr. as a suspect in the death. The police department said they were working the death as a homicide, though the coroner’s officer has not made that ruling.

Friday morning, police said Smith was arrested Thursday in Muncie by Fort Wayne Homicide detectives, Vice and Narcotics detectives and Muncie Police officers.

According to court records, police found Ferris’s body in the bathtub of the room, with “obvious signs of physical abuse to her body.”

A witness told police he was living in the room and left the night before, and Ferris was “alive and well.” He returned Monday morning to find her dead, according to an affidavit.

Another witness told police that she witnessed the “event” that killed Ferris. According to the affidavit, the witness said she was in a storage room of the hotel with Ferris and Smith when Smith became upset with Ferris for stealing and using his drugs and began to assault her – “striking her repeatedly on the head, standing on her neck and kicking her.”

The witness said Smith then ordered her to help him tape Ferris’s arms and legs, and Smith held her head under water in the bathtub until she was dead, the affidavit said.

At that point, Smith said he was going to “stage the scene” to make it look like Ferris overdosed, the witness told police. Smith put drug paraphernalia in the bathroom and began to burn some of the tape that was used. He also removed from bloody carpet and removed Ferris’s clothes, the affidavit said.

The items were tossed from a truck as the Smith and two others drove away, the affidavit said.

Police said the crime scene was consistent with the witnesses take. A forensic pathologist also said the victim’s injuries were consistent with the description of the incident.

Smith is being held on charges of Murder, Armed Robbery, and Criminal Confinement.

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