PEOPLE Explains: Newlywed Found Buried on Maryland Beach with One Arm Visible Through Sand
Maryland police say they do not suspect foul play in the death of 30-year-old Texan Ashley O'Connor, who was found buried in the sand in Ocean City
Maryland police say they do not suspect foul play in the death of 30-year-old Texas newlywed Ashley O’Connor, who was found buried in the sand on Monday in Ocean City after apparently falling into a hole on the beach — but authorities are looking to determine just how the hole became filled with sand in mere hours.
Here are four things to know about the case that has made national headlines.
1. It Is Unclear How O’Connor Got Into the Hole
At around 6:30 a.m. on Monday, a beachgoer reported seeing O’Connor’s arm sticking through the sand on the Ocean City beach, an Ocean City Police Department spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
Police said they do not suspect homicide, and the medical examiner has ruled the death accidental.
A spokesperson with the medical examiner’s office tells PEOPLE that O’Connor died of asphyxia due to suffocation.
“She was found buried in a hole,” the police spokesperson says of O’Connor. “It is believed that she either fell or sat in the hole.”
2. Unclear How the Hole Become Filled with Sand
O’Connor became separated from her family around 2 a.m. Monday and was seen walking alone on the beach, the police spokesperson tells PEOPLE. About four hours passed between the time she was last seen and the time her body was discovered.
She was reportedly vacationing in the area with her parents.
“How the hole became filled with sand is still under investigation,” the spokesperson says.
It is unclear how deep the hole was. However, photos of the crime scene show investigators standing waist-deep in the ditch.
“My beach operator is telling me that all they can see is an arm sticking out of the sand,” a beach patrol officer is heard saying in a call obtained by by ABC News.
3. O’Connor Was an Artist Who Leaves Behind a New Wife
Those who knew O’Connor remembered her as “talented” and a “great friend.” In the wake of her death, a friend set up a a GoFundMe page to benefit the woman described as O’Connor’s wife.
“Ashley was a newly married, young woman who was self employed and just starting out in a painting business with her wife, Janet,” the page reads. “[Her wife] is, of course, devastated as she’s lost her best friend.”
O’Connor was an artist from Plano, Texas, who would sometimes use Facebook to sell her work.
In November, she gushed about writing a book titled Definite Purpose.
“It’s available to buy on Amazon everyone go check it out!” she wrote in a Facebook post. “And I have a art show coming up Dec 8th and 9th! Everyone should come out to the show check out my new pieces!”
4. Friend Pays Tribute: ‘There Will Never Be Another You’
Friend Brittany Albanese took to Facebook to mourn this week, sharing several photos of her and O’Connor together.
“Ashley O’Connor…. you were such a great friend to not only me but, you were the BEST friend to my sister,” Albanese wrote on Facebook. “You are more talented then words && now you’re in heaven with our angel.”
In another post, along with a slew of pictures, Albanese wrote:
“There will never be another you. You will forever and always be my best friend. I love you Ashley O’Connor.”