Coroner determines drug intoxication behind woman’s death in Rifle |

Coroner determines drug intoxication behind woman’s death in Rifle

Following an autopsy performed on a body found north of Rifle, the Garfield County Coroner’s Office has reported the cause of death to be accidental and drug-related.

The body of 38-year-old Rifle woman Sunny Morrisette was discovered in a privately owned field on May 5. Her body, which initially lacked identification, was located approximately 75 to 100 yards west of Colorado Highway 13, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office originally reported.

The sheriff’s office identified her about a five days later.

In an email this week, Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire said Morrisette died from ingesting a mixture of methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

After no traces of injury were discovered on Morrisette’s body, the coroner’s office ordered an autopsy. The autopsy was completed on May 28.

“The autopsy is a process,” Glassmire said in the email. “Some might think that an autopsy is complete after the forensic pathologist’s first examination of a body, which usually occurs within days of our initial response.”

That examination of the body is just the first part, Glassmire said.

“The forensic pathologist also reviews medical records and scene records, orders toxicology tests, and they will also perform microscopic examination,” he explained. “It’s usually toxicology that takes several weeks or sometimes months. The doctor will then provide us with their opinion on the person’s cause of death.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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