A preliminary autopsy of a 48-year-old Weeping Water woman whose body was found Friday in rural Otoe County indicated that she died of cold exposure, the Otoe County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
Investigators do not suspect foul play was involved in Amber Tjaden’s death, the Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.
Tjaden, the daughter of former Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle and former State Sen. Deb Suttle, went missing Jan. 27. Authorities on Friday discovered the black 2019 Jaguar F-Pace SUV that Tjaden had been driving on an unplowed minimum-maintenance road in Otoe County between Elmwood (in Cass County) and Unadilla.
Authorities found Tjaden’s vehicle parked on the left side of a road, Otoe County Chief Deputy Sheriff Michael Holland said in an interview. Her body was discovered in a washed-out section on the side of the road about 2 feet from the SUV. Holland said it was unclear how Tjaden ended up in the ditch, or how long she may have been there.
Holland said there “could be some intoxicants” involved, including beer and sleeping pills. Authorities are awaiting the results of a toxicology report, which could take a month.
Holland said there were no signs of trauma on Tjaden’s body, nor “anything to indicate” signs of foul play at the location where her body was found.
“At this point, we don’t believe there was anyone else involved,” Holland said.
Tjaden’s husband, Matthew Tjaden, was arrested Jan. 29 on suspicion of flight to avoid arrest and child neglect after a Cass County sheriff’s deputy went to the couple’s home to investigate a missing person’s report filed by Amber Tjaden’s adult daughter.
Matthew Tjaden, 38, was released Feb. 1 after posting bail. He has a pretrial hearing scheduled for March 4 in Cass County.
Amber Tjaden managed the Gateway to College program at Metropolitan Community College.
The Otoe County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate.