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Clues sought in death

Authorities are searching for answers today after a 16-year-oldBrookhaven girl was found dead Tuesday morning at a localmotel.

The girl was identified as Victoria Stapleton, of 506 EastMinnesota St., who was discovered dead around 11:20 a.m. in room216 of the Super 8 Motel. An autopsy was expected to be performedWednesday and an investigation is continuing.

“We’ve interviewed some people, but we’ve got to continue doingthat today,” said Lincoln County Sheriff Lynn Boyte. “Hopefully,after the autopsy, we’ll get the answers to some of ourquestions.”

When a housekeeping attendant came to the room around 9 a.m.Tuesday, the girl stirred in her bed, and the attendant moved toanother room, Boyte said. After cleaning several other rooms, theattendant returned shortly after 11 a.m. and found the girldead.

Boyte said there were no signs of struggle. The room was notdisturbed, and the girl’s jewelry was not missing.

Stapleton was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:40 a.m., saidLincoln County Coroner-Medical Examiner Morris Henderson. The girlwas found with her feet on the bed and her upper body off the bedand leaning toward a night stand.

“We just don’t know what happened,” Henderson said.

Henderson said the girl arrived at the hotel late Mondayafternoon. He said a pocketbook was the only item in herpossession.

If the autopsy doesn’t reveal a cause of death, Henderson saidit could be several weeks before blood work results areavailable.

“If he doesn’t find anything, we’ll have to wait on thetoxicology report,” Henderson said.

Boyte said investigators are trying to talk to the 16 guests whowere registered at the hotel Monday night. Room 216 was notregistered in the victim’s name, but the sheriff did not identifythe person in whose named it was listed.

The girl’s uncle was registered in room 220, but the reason fortheir being at the hotel was not known.

“There’s still some things out there we’ve got to find answersto today,” Boyte said.

Boyte said the death could be attributable to natural causes orsome other reason. He said authorities have to continue theirinvestigation.

“At some point in time, all cases start out this way,” Boytesaid. “You just have to dig and piece things together.”

Henderson said Stapleton, the daughter of Billy Rae and FloraHunt of Franklin County, was staying with a sister, Nicole Gatlin,in Brookhaven and attending school in Wesson.

Williams Mortuary is in charge of funeral arrangement.