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Police and fire

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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Scene at Wednesday's death investigation.

Meth linked to death probe; survivor now 'critical'

FORT WAYNE – It has not been determined what caused the death of a Fort Wayne woman and left another fighting for her life, but the city police department announced Friday that there appears to a meth connection.

Dana M. Gersper, 33, and a woman who survived were found Tuesday afternoon in the storefront at 4331 S. Anthony Blvd. in the Anthony Wayne Village Centre, a strip mall just south of McKinnie Avenue.

Police said Friday that the survivor's condition "has since deteriorated." The woman is now in critical condition, police said. Her name has not been made public.

The Fort Wayne police Methamphetamine Suppression Unit assisted in the investigation because products associated with making methamphetamine were discovered at the scene at and were also discovered in a vehicle connected to the case, police said.

"Investigators have reason to believe that there was an active methamphetamine lab at the vacant store unit on that day," the police said in a written statement.

Two other people also went to the emergency room of a nearby hospital the same day, another woman and a man, police said. They were identified as being "associated and involved" with the investigation. They were not hospitalized as of Friday afternoon, police said.

Police officers initially went to the scene about 1:10 p.m. Wednesday after an anonymous caller told dispatchers there was a "dead body and possibly another in the lot across from Belmont Beverage" and then hung up, according to a police statement.

Believing the call came from near the Belmont Beverage at 4308 S. Anthony, across from the strip mall, officers searched the area, and in the process, checked the storefront where the women were later discovered, but officers found no one at the time, police said.

About an hour later, the owner of a business in the strip mall reported a suspicious odor coming from the storefront and said that people inside needed help, police said. Emergency crews were dispatched, and they found the two women, police said.