AUTOPSY: Woman’s death meth overdose, not homicide in Carteret County

CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – An autopsy report says that a woman who died back in May was not the victim of a homicide but rather a drug overdose.

Carteret County deputies said Lee Ann Gallagher was discovered dead in her Whitehurst Drive home on May 21st. Her death was being treated as a homicide.

An official autopsy dated May 26th and approved on December 18th that was obtained by WITN says that Gallagher had a history of substance abuse and lists methamphetamine intoxication as the cause of death in this case. According to a toxicology report, Gallagher had .60 mg/L of methamphetamine and .30 mg/L of amphetamine in her system.

The Carteret County Sheriff’s Office in a press release Friday said that the case has been closed as an overdose death. “The autopsy found no broken bones or other significant injuries, aside from superficial bruising and abrasions to include no findings consistent with a sexual assault,” the press release said.

“This investigation also found that Gallagher had been verbalizing and documenting suicidal ideations in the recent days prior to her death. Witness statements corroborate that Gallagher had been acting very strange in the days leading up to her death, which is believed to have been caused by illicit drug usage, which she had a reported history of,” the sheriff’s office said in its press release Friday.

An investigative report by the Carteret County medical examiner prepared on May 22nd and obtained by WITN, said that Gallagher’s body was discovered by her estranged husband, William McNair, who she still shared a home with her in the Straits community. McNair had told investigators that he last spoke with his wife around 11 a.m. the day before. McNair had also, according to the report, told investigators that he thought she had been using meth lately.

The report goes on to say that Lee was found in an upstairs bedroom naked from the waist down with her upper torso partially under the bed frame.

“She had been gagged with what appears to be the cloth lining from the bottom of the box springs. Her inner thighs, especially her right inner thigh contained multiple circular bruises. She also had circular bruising noted to her neck,” the ME’s report said.

There was also bruising to her wrist, feet, and face/jaw area, according to the medical examiner’s report.

The later autopsy report noted the cloth found in Gallagher’s mouth, but said it was “without definitive airway obstruction.”

“There was hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and pulmonary emphysema,” the autopsy report added.

WITN asked the sheriff’s office for more information regarding the cloth that was found in Gallagher’s mouth.

Detective Cory Bishop said, “Some questions can never have an absolute answer, anything further would be speculation. What we can say, as per the autopsy report is that the cloth like material in her mouth did not cause a “definitive airway obstruction” and was not listed as a cause of death. Also as we all know, individuals using Methamphetamines are known to display erratic behaviors and otherwise act abnormally.”

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