Thurston County Watch

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office ended a homicide investigation in December after a Rainier woman was found dead last May in the Deschutes River. 

In an email to the Nisqually Valley News, Lt. Ray Brady said his department was investigating a suspect who was referred and charged with second-degree assault prior to 33-year-old Ashley Barney’s death. 

Brady referred to an incident that occurred between Barney and the suspect, 33-year-old Anthony Heard, Barney’s former boyfriend, before her body was found, but additional details were unavailable. The Nisqually Valley News has requested additional documents linked to the investigation. 

“At this time we were not able to show evidence of homicidal means which led to her death,” Brady wrote. 

According to Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock, Barney’s official cause of death was freshwater drowning. 

Barney’s body was found near the 16000 block of Vail Loop Road near Rainier on May 22. 

Two hikers reported seeing the body from a nearby trail during an afternoon hike. Deputies responded shortly after and brought in a diving team to retrieve the body. 

Both the coroner’s office and sheriff’s office investigated the case as a suspicious death. Barney was not reported missing, although she hadn’t been seen at her home for a couple days. 

Last week, Warnock told the Nisqually Valley News that Barney’s toxicology report found acute levels of methamphetamine, cyclobenzaprine and diazepam in her system. 

Warnock said Barney’s manner of death was undetermined. 

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