Death of Coolville woman being investigated as murder-suicide

By Sarah Hawley -

LEE COUNTY, Va. — The shooting deaths of a Coolville woman and a Virginia Police Officer are being investigated as a murder-suicide, according to numerous media outlets.

Emeri A. Connery, 26, of Coolville, and her cousin Bailey S. Smith, 21, of Duffield, Virginia — who was a police officer in Big Stone Gap, Virginia — were found dead following a vehicle crash early Sunday morning. Both had suffered gunshot wounds.

Connery was a 2011 graduate of Eastern High School where she was a standout athlete.

As previously reported, a 2015 GMC pickup truck had been traveling north on Route 23 when it ran off the left side of highway into the median. When Trooper D.G. Giles arrived on scene, he found both of the vehicle’s two occupants deceased. Further investigation revealed both occupants had suffered gunshot wounds. The bodies were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for autopsy and examination.

According to the Kingsport Times-News, in a press release issued late Monday night, the Virginia State Police said investigators have confirmed that the shootings occurred within the vehicle. Police said that, at this stage, they are investigating the incident as a murder-suicide. A firearm was recovered from inside the vehicle, the VSP said, and the there is no evidence to indicate another vehicle or individual was involved in the shootings.

The Virginia State Police is investigating the crash and deaths.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call the Virginia State Police Wytheville Division at 276-228-3131 or email us at

By Sarah Hawley

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.