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Investigators treating death of mom found in N.H. pond as 'suspicious'

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Authorities found Krista Dittmeyer's body Wednesday in a pond near Cranmore Mountain
  • Four days earlier, the woman's toddler was found alone and not far away, in a running car
  • An official says investigators are treating her death as a "suspicious criminal case"
  • A friend of the woman's family describes Dittmeyer as a "wonderful, loving mother"

(CNN) -- Investigators are treating the death of a 20-year-old mother, found in a New Hampshire pond not far from where her toddler was discovered alone in a running car, as a "suspicious criminal case," a state law enforcement official said Thursday.

The body of Krista Dittmeyer was found a day earlier in water near the Cranmore Mountain ski area in North Conway.

A medical examiner concluded the woman's autopsy Thursday afternoon. But "at this juncture, the cause and manner of her death remain pending due to the toxicology results having to be returned," said New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Jane Young.

"At this point, the case remains active and ongoing," said Young.

The prosecutor said that potential witnesses and others are being interviewed and additional evidence is being gathered. But she did not elaborate further or take questions from reporters, nor did she identify any possible suspects.

"The family is devastated," Kathy Pratt, a friend of Dittmeyer's family, told CNN's affiliate WCVB. "Nobody's daughter should ever get murdered."

A passerby spotted Dittmeyer's black Nissan Sentra early Saturday morning in a parking lot of the ski resort, which is in eastern New Hampshire. Spotting flashing hazard lights, the witness noticed the car was "running, the driver's door was slightly ajar and there was a baby in the backseat," Conway police spokesman Christopher Perley said Monday.

After police were alerted, the 14-month-old was taken to nearby Memorial Hospital. The child was determined by doctors to be in good health, then reunited with its grandmother, Perley said.

New Hampshire police, fire and rescue personnel then worked with New Hampshire Fish and Game staffers and police dogs to search the area. The FBI in New Hampshire joined the investigation on Tuesday.

Dittmeyer, who last spoke with family members the Friday night before her child was found, lived with roommates in Portland, Maine, and had friends in the North Conway area. She had no history of mental illness and no criminal record, according to Perley.

"She was a wonderful, loving mother who I'm sure made sure her daughter was safe, right to the very end," said Pratt.

The medical examiner indicated that it could take six to eight weeks to complete the toxicology results on Dittmeyer's body, according to Young. The Granite State official asked for the public's help, as authorities worked to track down information on the deceased woman's whereabouts before she went missing.