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July 30, 2003

Deaf woman found dead in Leon home

From: Des Moines Register, IA - Jul 30, 2003

Investigators haven't decided whether her death was a homicide.

Register Staff Writer

Leon, Ia. - A deaf Leon woman was found dead in her home Tuesday morning, authorities said.

Joe Jeffrey, 75, said he found his daughter Melody Sue Jeffrey, 42, at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in her house lying next to her bed.

Leon police confirmed Jeffrey's death, but said they had not ruled it a homicide. State and local investigators were examining the scene late Tuesday.

Joe Jeffrey said he did not notice any signs of forced entry at the home.

However, Decatur County Sheriff Bert Muir said an open window in the lower level of the the two-story house had been shattered.

"We don't know what happened yet. I can't say it's a homicide or not a homicide," Muir said. "We have a death that has to be investigated."

Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agents took items from the home Tuesday afternoon, including a large door from the lower level.

Melody Jeffrey, a lifelong Leon resident, had lived in the home since 1985. She worked at West View Acres Living Care Center, according to her mother, Lois Jeffrey, 70.

Workers with Decatur County Community Service who came to pick Melody Jeffrey up Tuesday noticed her front door was closed. The door was usually unlocked because Jeffrey could not hear a doorbell. The workers called her father, who had a key.

Jeffrey's body was taken to the state medical examiner's office late Tuesday for an autopsy. Those results were not available Tuesday night.

Jeffrey's daughter, Kara Buckingham, 22, of Grimes, said she hadn't noticed any signs of health problems in her mother.

Diane Hill, administrator of the center where Jeffrey worked, also said she hadn't noticed Jeffrey having any health problems.

"She was so proud that she was working," Hill said. "Melody was a joy. She was a very sweet lady who always had a smile."

Jeffrey's neighbor, 51-year-old Galen Hines, said he was a good friend and often mowed Jeffrey's lawn. Hines said he saw Jeffrey take a walk about 5 p.m. Monday.

Other neighbors said she walked her dog, a Scottish terrier, sometimes three or four times a day.

Copyright © 2003, The Des Moines Register.