By Don Iler • News Editor • 

Jennifer Huston death declared suicide

Jennifer Huston

Jennifer Huston

They are basing that on a state medical examiner's report, issued Thursday, that determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation as a result of hanging.

Detectives found Huston's body Tuesday, about 40 yards from her dark green Lexus, on a private rural driveway off of Gopher Valley Road. Inside the car, they found a note addressed to her family, along with an empty packet of over-the-counter sleeping pills she had purchased at Rite Aid on the late July afternoon she disappeared.

If the disappearance was puzzling, the death was perhaps even more so. It left friends, family and a national army of well-wishers, galvanized by social media, pondering what would cause a 38-year-old mother of two to take her own life. 

Huston was last seen by her husband the Thursday evening of July 24, when she left to run some errands. He reported her missing early the next morning.

The medical examiner determined she died shortly after her disappearance.

In a note released through police and posted online, members of Huston's family expressed their gratitude to the community, law enforcement and the media for lending their efforts to al all-out search. They said they plan to organize a memorial service, time and date yet to be determined.

The owner of the farm where her car turned up discovered it about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. He took down the license plate number and notified police.

Yamhill County sheriff's deputies were dispatched to cordon off the area and secure the scene.

When Newberg-Dundee detectives arrived, they conducted a sweep of the area. In the course of that, they discovered Huston's body in a wooded area about 40 yards away.

Detectives proceeded to notify the family, the Yamhill County District Attorney's Office, the state Medical Examiner's Office and the Oregon State Police Crime Lab.

Authorities had searched the area from the air, but heavy tree cover obscured the car.

Detectives said the car had a full tank of gas and did not appear to have been involved in an accident. The farm owner said the driver had apparently removed a rope barrier to gain access to the driveway, then put it back in place.

Huston left on her errand run about 5:30 p.m. July 24. When she still hadn't returned 12 hours later, her husband, Kallen, called police.

Detectives said he underwent intensive interviews and took a polygraph test, which he passed. They said he cooperated fully with them from the outset.

Video surveillance captured Huston at three Newberg locations — a bank ATM where she drew out "less than $100," a Circle K where she gassed up and a Rite Aid where she purchased Gatorade, trail mix and an over-the-counter sleeping aid that authorities said would not be lethal in itself. Detectives said she made the stops in quick succession and appeared to be alone.

"This is totally unlike her," her husband said at a press conference early on. "She's a devoted mother. She's a good person. I think all of our friends would agree about that."

He went on to say, "We have a good, solid relationship. We're close to celebrating 10-year wedding anniversary, and we've known each other 17 years."

He said she had been experiencing headaches for about three days prior to her disappearance, but had not begun taking any medication or scheduled any doctor's appointments in response.

News of her disappearance spread across the country, and large-scale searches were conducted by friends, relatives, authorities and civilian well-wishers, stretching from Oregon to the San Juan Islands and beyond. But it now appears she had been lying dead all the while off a rural road near the West Valley community of Sheridan, victim of her own hand.

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