A Decatur woman who died at a Fort Wayne hotel was a homicide victim, the Allen County coroner's office ruled Tuesday, about two months after her death.
Tiffany I. Ferris drowned, the coroner determined, updating the cause and manner of death from pending.
Ferris, 35, was found dead May 10 at Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, 3320 Coliseum Blvd. W.
Terry Smith Jr., 34, is accused of killing Ferris by beating and drowning her at the hotel. Court records indicate he was upset because she had stolen and used his narcotics.
Smith, whose last address was in Bluffton, was arrested without incident days later in Muncie by Fort Wayne homicide and vice and narcotics detectives.
According to a probable cause affidavit, a woman and man were with Smith when he killed Ferris in a hotel room used for storage and accessed by an outdoor window. The unidentified woman told a detective she was ordered by Smith to help tape Ferris' arms and legs after he repeatedly hit her on the head, stood on her neck and kicked her.
Smith then “held (Ferris') head under the water in the bathtub until she was deceased,” the witness said in court records.
Smith then staged the scene to look like Ferris died from a drug overdose, placing drug paraphernalia nearby and burning some of the tape used on Ferris. He removed bloodstained portions of the carpet using scissors and then took off Ferris' clothes, court documents said.
Ferris' death is the 23rd homicide in Allen County this year.