Autopsy: No foul play, trauma in death of woman found in burned room

An autopsy revealed no signs of foul play in the death of a Norcross woman discovered Saturday in her fire-blackened bedroom.

Nothing is finalized, but fire investigators believe the culprit may have been cigarettes.

The woman now identified as 53-year-old Heather Ferguson was found dead inside her townhome on Heritage Valley Road Saturday evening, her son having driven down from New York after being unable to reach her via phone. A fire had occurred “some time ago” in the bedroom where she was discovered, fire officials said at the time, and the case was being investigated like a homicide in order to “conduct a thorough investigation for the family.”

An autopsy performed by the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that there were no signs of foul play or trauma on Ferguson’s body.

“We know she died basically of smoke and soot inhalation,” medical examiner investigator John Goodman told the Daily Post.

Gwinnett County fire department spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge said Monday that no signs pointed to foul play regarding the fire either. He said that Ferguson’s family described her as a chain smoker, which was “consistent with evidence found at the scene.”

“Fire investigators are awaiting forensics results from the lab before making a final determination on the cause of the fire,” Rutledge said. “It is not certain at this point whether smoking was a contributing factor.”

Lab results should be returned “within the next day or two,” Rutledge said.