The death of a Sylvania woman Wednesday was ruled accidental, said Screven County Sheriff Mike Kile.
Helen Elaine Neely, 47, Whitehill Road, Sylvania, apparently fell on a large knife she was holding while processing deer meat in her home, Kile said in a news release published on the Screven County Sheriff’s Office website. She died on the way to the hospital.
Investigator Brett Dickerson said no further information about the case will be released.
The case was turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation after Screven County sheriff’s deputies responded to the call around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The victim and her husband Monty Neely “were packaging processed deer meat in their home early Wednesday morning when Helen Neely lost her footing and fell to the floor while holding a large knife,” Kile said. “That knife entered her chest and caused a fatal injury. No signs of a struggle were evident, and several witnesses within the home confirmed that there was no argument or other indications of violence.”
Evidence found by GBI crime scene specialists and sheriff’s investigators supported the witness statements and the eventual finding of the GBI medical examiner, he said.
An autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner’s office in Savannah was conducted Thursday morning. That, paired with multiple interviews with witnesses and “an exhaustive review of the evidence, location, and circumstances of Neely’s death” led investigators to this conclusion over the course of the inquiry, Kile said.
“We appreciate the assistance of the GBI’s Special Agents and Medical Examiners very much. The state of Georgia has been very forward-thinking to provide a professional investigative resource like the GBI to assist small law enforcement agencies like ours with complex, serious investigations such as this one.”
Such assistance helps bring the truth to the surface, he said. “Some in the community may quickly jump to a false conclusion based on rumors or partial information, and it’s great to have an impartial outside agency bring their resources to bear in finding the truth.”
Anyone with information about this case or any other crime in Screven County is asked to contact Dickerson at (912) 564-2013.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.