Coroner: Decatur woman killed in Fort Wayne hotel drowned

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The Suburban Inn on West Coliseum Boulevard is shown Monday, May 10, 2021.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Results from the final autopsy conducted on a Decatur woman found dead inside a Fort Wayne hotel back in May shows she drowned and her death has been ruled a homicide. The Allen County Coroner’s Office released the final autopsy report Tuesday afternoon.

The body of Tiffany I. Ferris, 35, was found inside a room at the Suburban Extended Stay hotel at 3320 W. Coliseum Blvd. on May 10. Police had found Ferris’s body in the bathtub of the room, with “obvious signs of physical abuse to her body,” according to court records.

Terry Smith Jr.

Terry Smith Jr., 34, has been charged with murder in the case.

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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