Paragraph eleven reads: "Smyly said the autopsy showed she had toxic levels of Prozac in her system."
Door latch question leads to extended investigation two months after body found in storage unit
Debra Dawn Grajales
By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
FORKS More than two months after 45-year-old Debra Dawn Grajales was found dead in a rented storage unit, police continue to investigate what they initially and still believe was a suicide.
At the request of Grajales' family, Forks Detective Lev Teal is re-interviewing witnesses about the circumstances surrounding Grajales' mid-February death, Forks Police Chief Doug Price said Tuesday.
“We are looking at new information provided by the family,” Price said.
The family also asked the FBI on April 8 to investigate Grajales' death, Grajales' family members said last week in an interview, saying they believe the storage unit in which Grajales' body was found was latched from the outside when her death was discovered Feb. 15.
FBI spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich said Tuesday she did not have any information about the family's request but said any investigation would be “a confidential process.”
Grajales, a Raymond resident, had attempted to commit suicide in the past and had a physical disability that made it difficult for her to walk, said her mother, America Gonzalez of Grass Valley, Calif., and her sister, Glory Smyly of Prescott Valley, Ariz., in a telephone interview earlier this month.
Grajales was visiting her daughter in Forks on Feb. 12 when Grajales and Grajales' domestic partner had an argument and Grajales left the apartment on foot with pain pills, threatening to kill herself, according to Gonzalez's statement to the FBI.
Grajales' body was discovered in the storage unit three days later.
The storage unit was 1½ blocks away from Gonzales' granddaughter's apartment, Gonzalez said.
The unit Grajales entered was open when she entered it, Price said.
Smyly said the autopsy showed she had toxic levels of Prozac in her system.
Teal said the state Medical Examiner's Office is ruling the death a suicide and that Grajales had “toxic levels” of medication in her system as well as what appeared to be a hardened artery.
“Right now, it's a suicide,” Teal said, adding that the medical examiner's written report, when completed, would be forwarded to the Clallam County Prosecutor's Office.
The investigation may be completed by April 29, Teal said.
But the family still said they believe someone either helped Grajales commit suicide or killed her, family members said.
“It does not make any difference if she overdosed on pills,” Smyly said.
“The thing is, how did she get in there? The storage unit was latched. Whether she committed suicide is hearsay. Again, the storage unit was latched.”
When Teal arrived at the storage unit immediately after Grajales' body was found, “the door was wide-open” he said.
He did not immediately interview the renters of the storage unit.
When he interviewed them several weeks later, “they were really for sure it was latched,” Teal said.
“They definitely remember the latch was closed shut,” he added.
The renters of the storage unit could not be reached for comment.
“All we have is hearsay that it was latched,” Teal said.
“There is no way to be conclusive that it was open or closed” when the body was found.
In addition, the initial statement from the people who rented the shed “didn't indicate the storage unit was latched,” Price said.
“Later, they came back and said, ‘I think the storage unit was latched,'” he continued.
“If you think about it, some people get very upset about seeing a dead body, and then they start going back in their mind.
“All these things are taken into account, and that's why we are being very careful about checking into the information the Grajales family provided.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at email@example.com.
Last modified: April 19. 2011 11:42PM