Mother of four Sally Jane Demaris Smith of Montana was known for always being upbeat, whether she was leading a spin class or greeting her colleagues in the early morning hours at the elementary school where she worked.
"Talk about a wonderful, warm person," her friend, Jill Van Heel, a fifth-grade teacher at Meadow Lark Elementary School, where Smith worked as a speech and language pathologist, told the Great Falls Tribune.
"You know, at 6 a.m. nobody's warm and wonderful and fuzzy, but she is."
When the 52-year-old vanished on Sept. 25, her husband, children and many friends were worried sick.
On Sunday, her loved ones received the shocking news that she was found dead.
Her body was found inside her 2005 Toyota Corolla in a storage unit just outside Great Falls, Sheriff Jesse Slaughter of the Cascade County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.
An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday, Slaughter said.
Police are investigating and have not said whether they believe Smith was a victim of foul play.
A friend of hers who posted on the Help Find Sally Smith Facebook page implied he believes she was killed.
“A very sad day to all that helped thank you,” the friend wrote. “Sally was found today and was deceased, the person who did this will be found.”
The Montana Department of Justice issued a Missing/Endangered Person Alert for Smith, who was last seen on the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 25, in Great Falls.
She is believed to have been traveling to the Malta area in her Corolla.
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Her family is devastated.
“She is our rock, she is our foundation in our family, and everything evolves or revolves around her," her husband, Troy Smith, said, MontanaRightNow.com reports.
Since she went missing, Smith said he drove more than 3,000 miles looking for her and searched for her in a plane, the Tribune reports.
"I think when I'm driving, I'm actually accomplishing something, that I'm looking for her," he told the outlet. "Just sitting idle looking at Facebook posts just drives me nuts.
He remembers his wife as someone who would always stop and give panhandlers money, he told the Tribune.
"No matter where we were at or whatever the case. That's just how heartwarming she was," he told the Tribune. "She was willing to give a handout to anybody and just take people and embrace people in.
"To me, she's like a warm blanket straight out of the dryer. When she hugs you, you just melt. And I'm missing it."
In addition to her job at the school, she also worked at the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Clinic, the Tribune reports.
She was a spin class instructor at The Peak Health and Wellness Center and was very involved in her church community, the Tribune reports.
Longtime friend Susan Sanford met Smith in graduate school and worked with her in Great Falls as speech pathologists.
"I remember meeting her and I was like 'I think she's perfect,'" she told the Tribune. "She really comes in with full energy and she's just a basically happy, sunny-side-up kind of person."
"She was my go-to-gal," Sanford told the outlet. "It's just been a lot. It's just shocking and I'm just lost and dumbfounded. We're just amazed that we're in this position."
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