LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Investigators are trying to locate the attacker or attackers who killed an Arkansas anchor and are warning women in her community to carry pepper spray in case her assault was not an isolated attack, FOX News has learned.
Anne Pressly, 26, died Saturday at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center, several days after she didn't answer her wake-up call and was found viciously beaten in her Little Rock, Ark., home, hospital officials said.
Pulaski County coroner Garland Camper told FOXNews.com that an autopsy will likely be performed Monday at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory in Little Rock.
In a statement released by the hospital, Pressly's parents, Guy and Patti Cannady, asked for privacy as they grieved.
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"It was our hope, as was yours, that Anne would overcome the injuries inflicted upon her in the brutal attack at her home," the statement read. "We were with her in her last moments, and although our hearts are broken, we are at the same time comforted by our faith knowing that Anne is now with our heavenly father."
Pressly was beaten around the head, face and neck. She had been unable to communicate with her family or police while being kept sedated in the intensive care unit.
The anchor's death came only a day after a doctor said he was encouraged that her vital signs were stable while she remained in critical condition. Dr. Clifton R. Johnson told reporters Friday that swelling in Pressly's brain had gone down since being hospitalized and that doctors had slowly been reducing her sedative dosages.
She was discovered Monday morning a half-hour before she was to appear on ABC affiliate KATV's "Daybreak" program. Her mother went to her home after she didn't answer her regular 4 a.m. wake-up call.
Police have yet to identify a suspect, though detectives have combed the area around Pressly's home in the Heights neighborhood — a mix of bungalows and mansions near the Little Rock Country Club. News reports said detectives found evidence that Pressly's credit card was used Monday at a gas station a few miles from her home.
Sgt. Cassandra Davis, a police spokeswoman, said investigators suspect Pressly was the victim of a random attack. Davis did not return a call for comment Saturday night.
Pressly was a native of Greenville, S.C., and moved with her family to Little Rock while she was in high school. She was a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.
She had a small role in the new Oliver Stone movie "W.," which was filmed in Shreveport, La. She appears briefly as a conservative commentator who speaks favorably of President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" event on an aircraft carrier shortly after the start of the Iraq war.
On Saturday, KATV opened its nightly news cast with a seven-minute segment devoted to Pressly. Anchor Pamela Smith told viewers that Pressly's family agreed to have their daughter be an organ donor. Smith's voice hitched as she read condolences sent into the station, her eyes red.
"She owned every room she was in, not because she demanded our attention, but because we willingly gave it to her," Smith said. "We all felt a little better, a little more alive just being near her.
"Life was easy for Anne Pressly. But it is her death that is so very hard for all of us."
No funeral arrangements were immediately announced.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.