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Oregon woman charged in death of daughter at resort

Jessica Smith, 40

AP/Cannon Beach Police Department

Jessica Smith, 40, faces charges of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder, Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis said.

CANNON BEACH, Ore. — The mother of a toddler found dead at a coastal Oregon resort has been taken into custody, authorities said Sunday night.

Jessica Smith, 40, faces charges of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder, Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis said.

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He said at a late-night news conference that she was being held at an Astoria jail and would appear for her arraignment, which would likely occur Monday afternoon.

Cannon Beach Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn said the suspect was taken into custody Sunday after a multiple agency search.

She was found about 15 miles east of Cannon Beach off a logging road, The Oregonian reported. Police said a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter spotted her vehicle there.

Authorities had said earlier in the day that the mother of the toddler and a teen girl found seriously injured in a resort room was wanted on suspicion of murder.

The paper reported that Schermerhorn said the cause of death of the 2-year-old remains unknown after an autopsy. But it determined her death was a homicide.

Authorities had been looking for Smith of Goldendale, Washington, since a housekeeper discovered the toddler and her 13-year-old sister Friday morning at the resort. Previously, officials wanted to ensure Smith’s welfare.

The teen had severe cut wounds, but authorities said she is expected to make a full recovery.

Smith and her children checked into the resort Wednesday, and there was no sign of forced entry, the chief said. The children’s father has cooperated with investigators and has been ruled out as a suspect, Schermerhorn has said. Multiple media reports citing court records say the couple had recently separated.

The public was asked to watch for a 2007 gold Chevrolet Suburban with the Washington license plate APX 3141, which Smith was believed to be driving.

More than a dozen people from around Cannon Beach gathered Saturday evening for a candlelight vigil for the 2-year-old girl. One of the women who helped organize the vigil said they wanted to support the teen who survived as well as the community.

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