Md. Teens' Suicides Probably by Carbon Monoxide

By Candace Rondeaux and Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Two missing Montgomery County teens found dead in a car in rural Loudoun County last week probably died of carbon monoxide poisoning, the Loudoun County sheriff's office said yesterday.

The Virginia medical examiner's office in Fairfax County ruled yesterday on the cause of death based on a preliminary autopsy, Loudoun sheriff's spokesman Kraig Troxell said. "Although the case remains an active investigation, it appears the two teens took their own lives," Troxell said in a statement.

The sheriff's office would not release further details, citing a policy not to disclose information in suicide cases.

Rachel Samantha Smith, 16, of Potomac, and Rachel Lacy Crites, 18, of Gaithersburg, were found dead in the front of the Crites family's car Friday on an access road off Route 9 near the West Virginia border. They had been missing since Jan. 19, when they told their parents they would be attending a movie in Georgetown.

Reached at home yesterday, Smith's father, Paul, said the family is likely to be in shock "for a long time" over the girls' deaths. He said a funeral for his daughter will be held later this week.

"We just want to get Rachel home and put her to rest," Paul Smith said of his daughter.

Reached by phone yesterday, Rachel Crites's father, Troy, said his daughter had been in treatment for depression. But counselors and family members had not noticed any warning signs for suicide, he said, declining to comment further. "They got it in their minds that this was a way to see out of their current hurt," Troy Crites said.

Last night, students, friends and family members held a candlelight vigil for Crites and Smith at Thomas S. Wootton High School in Rockville, where the two had been students. Smith had been a junior, and Crites graduated last year and had gone on to Montgomery College.

Friends of the girls posted messages of sympathy and concern yesterday on a site featuring a photo of Rachel Crites and details about her life. The site also included a poem with eerie references to death. It was not clear whether Crites or someone else posted the poem:

Have you ever been haunted by an angel

who sings songs of the night in your head

you know he is warm and gentle

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