Cops Arrest Mom of Toddler Found Dead in Hotel Room

Jessica Smith found hiding out in woods

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 4, 2014 9:41 AM CDT

(Newser) – The mother whose dead 2-year-old daughter and badly injured 13-year-old daughter were found in an Oregon hotel room last week was tracked down hours after police issued a warrant for her arrest. Jessica Smith, 40, was taken into custody on an aggravated murder charge yesterday after a Coast Guard helicopter spotted her vehicle on a logging road, reports the Oregonian. Police believe she had been in the nearby woods since Friday, the day her daughters were found. She also faces an attempted aggravated murder charge, and is expected to be formally charged with both today.

Smith's 13-year-old daughter, Alana, who was found with what police called "critical cuts," is in protective custody in a Portland hospital. An autopsy on her 2-year-old sister, Isabella, failed to determine a cause of death. "It's hard to know with a child that size," a police spokesman tells KATU. "They need to await a toxicology report." The girls' father filed for divorce in June and police say he is not a suspect. Family members say that while Smith was troubled by the divorce, they're shocked to think of her harming her daughters. "I can't imagine my sister ever doing something like that," her brother tells Fox 12. "She had a heart of gold." But her husband's attorney says his client had worried about his ex's mental state; she was supposed to transfer the girls to him for visitation on the day they were found.

This image provided by Cannon Beach Wash. Police Department shows an undated photo of Jessica Smith, 40
This image provided by Cannon Beach Wash. Police Department shows an undated photo of Jessica Smith, 40   (AP Photo/Cannon Beach Police Department)
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