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Sheriff: Antifreeze attack report now believed to be false

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Investigators now believe a Citrus Heights woman’s report of being attacked in Auburn and having antifreeze forced down her throat was false. But preliminary results of tests taken at two hospitals days apart did find evidence of gas-line antifreeze in her system., a Placer County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said Tuesday. Cynthia Smith died Dec. 10, seven days after telling investigators about a bizarre attack in which the 36-year-old woman said she was pushed to the ground and forced to ingest antifreeze. Sheriff’s investigators had initially treated Smith’s death as suspicious but now do not believe she was attacked by anybody, Lt. Mark Reed said. “We don’t believe there is somebody out there attacking people on Edgewood Road,” Reed said. While Reed declined to go into details about the reasons investigators now believe that Smith’s version of what occurred around 6:30 p.m. on a semi-rural section of Edgewood Road on the outskirts of Auburn, he did say that there were inconsistencies in the evidence she provided to deputies. Preliminary results from toxicology tests taken both Dec. 3 at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital and later at Mercy San Juan Medical Center showed evidence of gas-line antifreeze in Smith’s system, Reed said. Gas-line antifreeze is an additive that contains methanol – or wood alcohol – and is used to keep fuel lines from freezing by removing water from gas tanks. Methanol, which is also found in automobile windshield cleaner and copy machine fluid, can lead to blindness, coma or death after ingestion. Smith went into a coma after being admitted to the Sacramento County hospital and died three days later. Reed said the Sheriff’s Office intends to share information and evidence it has gathered with Smith’s family before potentially releasing it publicly. Smith, a University of California, Davis graduate, had last worked full-time as a cook a year ago but her father, Leslie Smith, said she was not despondent and had been looking forward to Christmas.