The need for blood tests in the investigation of Krista Dittmeyer's death could indicate that she suffered no obvious injury to explain how she died, although New Hampshire authorities would not comment Friday on the condition of her body or other evidence in the case.
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Dittmeyer, a 20-year-old Portland resident, was found dead Wednesday in a pond in North Conway, N.H., a couple of hundred yards from where her 14-month-old daughter had been found alone in Dittmeyer's idling car on the morning of April 23.
"The deputy medical examiner has indicated the cause and manner of death are pending return of the toxicology results and further investigation," Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said.
The cause of death refers to what killed the person and the manner refers to how they died, such as homicide, suicide or accident.
In some cases, medical examiners request blood tests when there are no injuries to a body or the injuries don't appear to have been fatal. The presence or absence of alcohol, drugs or other toxins may be important in determining what caused someone to die.
Authorities may actually have a clear idea of the cause of death but withhold it for investigative reasons.
Certain details may be known only to police and people who were with Dittmeyer at or near the end of her life, and those details could be important in identifying suspects or ascertaining the reliability of leads.
For instance, when Jeffery Gorman murdered Amy St. Laurent of South Berwick in 2001, he told his mother how he had killed her before anyone except investigators knew how she died. That information was particularly helpful in convicting him.
Dittmeyer's boyfriend, Kyle Acker, the father of her child, is in prison for drug trafficking. He was arrested last summer when police found 15 grams of cocaine and more than 2 ounces of marijuana and a loaded pistol at the apartment he shared with Dittmeyer in South Portland.
The couple lived together in Conway in 2009. Court records show that Acker had misdemeanor arrests in Carroll County, where Conway is, but none that were drug-related.
Young said police are still urging people who have any information that might pertain to Dittmeyer's movements the night before her car was found, or early that morning, to contact authorities. People can call Conway police at (603) 356-5715 or New Hampshire State Police at (603) 271-3636, or anonymously send a tip by texting "GOTCHA" plus the message to 274637 (CRIMES).
Young said New Hampshire authorities are working closely with Maine police agencies. The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office has been assisting police since Monday and took the lead in the investigation Wednesday, when Dittmeyer's body was found.
Young would not comment on the reliability of earlier statements by police that investigators did not believe Dittmeyer, a Bridgton native, left the area on her own or harmed herself.
"Those statements may have been made before we became the lead agency," she said.
Young said police are withholding details, such as evidence that might have been found in Dittmeyer's car or whether another vehicle was searched, to preserve the integrity of the investigation.