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Police: Woman's death appears to be a drug overdose

By Joe Beck

Strasburg police have made a tentative determination that a 57-year-old woman died in her home Jan. 5 from a prescription drug overdose.

Police Chief Tim Sutherly said investigators are still waiting for an autopsy report and lab results before formally declaring the death of Phyllis Ann Shears-Butler the result of a drug overdose.

"That's how we're treating it at this point," Sutherly said, adding, "no foul play is suspected."

Sutherly said Shears-Butler's doctor indicated she was on several medications for an illness and that "she had taken more than prescribed."

Sutherly said the state Medical Examiner's Office has completed an autopsy and his department is waiting to receive the report.

An affidavit for a search warrant executed at 100 Massanutten Manor Circle, where police found Shears-Butler's body, describes her death as "unattended."

The affidavit, written by Investigator Chris S. Dodson, states that "marijuana seeds and numerous prescription medicines that were packaged in clear plastic baggies" were found in "plain view" along with a smoking device and "what appeared to be a straw used for snorting drugs."

The affidavit states that Shears-Butler's brother reported that she had "overdosed several times in the past."

The affidavit states her brother told of visiting Shears-Butler on Jan. 2 during which time she was taking "numerous phone calls" and "people were showing up at the apartment to purchase narcotics."

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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