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Death looks suspicious, officials say

Samantha Cornwell
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Samantha Cornwell

Woman may have been dead for hours while young daughter was in apartment

By J.R. Williams-jrwilliams@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- Authorities say a Stephens City woman may have been dead in her apartment for six to eight hours before she was discovered Saturday by a neighbor.

According to a search warrant filed Tuesday in Frederick County Circuit Court, a medical examiner has said the death of Samantha Dawn Cornwell, 23, of 751 Plymouth St., No. 31, appears suspicious.

Cornwell was found face down in front of her couch in the living room after her 3-year-old daughter, who was locked inside the apartment, got the attention of a neighbor.

"They heard the little girl banging on the window and said she couldn't get her [mother] up," said Charles E. Bockey Jr., chief of the Stephens City Police Department. The neighbor instructed the girl to unlock the front door, found Cornwell and called 911.
Bockey said the girl was unharmed and that she is now staying with her father.

Town police said in a news release that no foul play is suspected in the death. But the search warrant says a medical examiner found "unexplained marks on her neck" that appeared suspicious.

Cornwell's body was taken to the state medical examiner's office in Manassas on Monday for an autopsy to determine cause of death.

A toxicology report is expected. Bockey said he did not now how long the results would take.

Authorities filed two search warrants in connection to the case Wednesday, one to search the home and one to examine a purple cell phone taken by officers from the home to determine who Cornwell may have contacted before her death.

Bockey said that the last contact Cornwell had with anyone was Friday night between 10 and 11 p.m.

"I still feel that foul play is not suspected. It's just suspicious at this time," Bockey said.
The Frederick County Sheriff's Office is assisting town police in the investigation.

Family will receive friends tonight from 7-9 p.m. at Jones Funeral Home in Winchester.
A funeral service is scheduled for Friday.

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