Police investigate death

Manassas police are investigating the suspicious death of a city woman who showed up at Prince William Hospital with bruises on various parts of her body.

Police were contacted Tuesday by the Northern Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office regarding Maria Rodriguez Guifarro, 36, after an autopsy to determine the cause of her death was completed.

“During the autopsy it was noted that Guifarro had a bruise behind her left ear, a bruise in the middle of her back and bruises to her extremities,” according to an affidavit for a search warrant filed Thursday in Prince William Circuit Court. “The victim additionally, had an enlarged aorta and possibly died from a ruptured aorta.”

The warrant was obtained to search medical records at Prince William Hospital because police believe she was admitted there in the past.

The hospital “may possess medical documentation that would substantiate prior abuse and/or blunt force trauma,” the affidavit reads.

A Northern Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office spokeswoman told the Potomac News and Manassas Journal Messenger that “cause and manner [of death] are both pending.”

Guifarro’s autopsy was performed Tuesday.

Police are still investigating and are not yet sure how she died, or whether a crime was committed at all; as such, they refused to release Guifarro’s address.

“She died at the hospital. This was a medical case from the beginning,” said Sgt. Marc Woolverton, Manassas police spokesman. “We were unaware of this woman until the medical examiner’s office contacted us.”

Hospital officials could not be reached Thursday.

Dr. Christopher Leets, a cardiologist practicing in Manassas and Warrenton, said there are three basic ways a person can suffer a ruptured aorta, which is the main artery in the body and c arries blood from the heart.

The first is chest trauma, most commonly seen in motor vehicle accidents as a result of steering wheel injuries. Any type of severe trauma to the chest can result in such an injury, however.

“Older people who have hardening of the arteries can develop aneurysms, which is sort of a ballooned-out area like you see on a bicycle tire,” Leets said. “Like a bicycle tire, if you don’t fix it, it bursts.”

What Leets called a “dissecting aneurysm of the aorta” can also cause a rupture. Such a condition is seen in different situations, he said. Usually people with severe high blood pressure or other hereditary illnesses can have them. A dissecting aneurysm of the aorta can lead to the tearing of the lining of the aorta, he said.

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