Arkansas anchorwoman dies in hospital after beating

Sunday, October 26th 2008, 11:02 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - An Arkansas television anchorwoman died Saturday, several days after she didn't answer her wake-up call and was found beaten in her home, hospital officials said.

Anne Pressly, 26, died at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Margaret Preston said.

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 by her recovery. 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.

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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 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 have 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, 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.

Pressly's television station posted a short note Saturday on its Web site announcing her death.

"The staff of Channel 7 cannot express our grief at the loss of Anne, our dear friend and co-worker," the statement read. "We thank everyone for their concerns and prayers for Anne and her family over the past week. Please continue to keep her family in your prayers."

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