Autopsy conducted on midshipman found in her dorm Results' release may take from days to weeks

August 20, 1996|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,SUN STAFF

An autopsy was conducted yesterday on an 18-year-old woman midshipman who was found dead in her Naval Academy dorm room early Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, classmates yesterday held a moment of silence.

Immediate results were unavailable on the autopsy of Joanna F. Simer of Minnetonka, Minn., which was conducted at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. "It could be anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks," said Ensign Leslie Lance, an academy spokeswoman. "They, of course, want to be as thorough as they possibly can."

Simer's body was found by her roommate about 6 a.m. Sunday in Bancroft Hall, the huge stone dormitory where all 4,000 midshipmen live. Academy officials said her body did not show any signs of trauma, foul play or suicide.

Meanwhile, the academy is conducting an investigation of her final days, Lance said, that will include interviews with other midshipmen and trainers to determine her schedule, diet and whether she took medication.

Simer had just completed "plebe summer," the rigorous six-week introduction into academy life, and "passed everything with flying colors," Lance said. Capt. Tom Jurkowsky, an academy spokesman, said Simer took a "very thorough" physical when she arrived July 2.

Plebe summer was more physically intense than in past years, said Jurkowsky, although he said it's a progressively developed regimen. The final week of training, however, included some breaks.

Saturday night, Simer attended lectures and went to bed about 10 p.m., Jurkowsky said.

During an afternoon ceremony yesterday marking the annual induction of the new class, classmates held a moment of silence.

In Minnesota, Simer was recalled as an honor student and athlete who played rugby and soccer, ran cross country and had no known health problems.

"She was in very good shape," said Dave Emmans, Simer's cross country coach for the past two years at Wayzata High School in Plymouth, a suburb of Minneapolis. "I know she was a pretty straight arrow. She was someone who didn't dabble in alcohol or drugs."

Emmans also said Simer showed no signs of eating disorders, a problem that particularly afflicts teen-age girls and some women midshipmen. He remembered that an acquaintance of Simer's, who also is a runner, was diagnosed with anorexia -- a lack of eating that can lead to emaciation and health troubles. Simer "said how odd it would be to go those lengths to be thin," he recalled.

Pub Date: 8/20/96

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