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Montgomery church leader found dead of asphyxiation

MONTGOMERY (AP) — The pastor at Thorington Road Baptist Church who was found dead in his new home died from asphyxiation, according to a preliminary report Monday from the state Department of Forensic Sciences.

Police said it didn't appear foul play was involved in the Rev. Gary M. Aldridge's death. But other details concerning how the asphyxiation occurred were not released, and the investigation will continue until the final autopsy report.

Lt. Mark Drinkard said a member of Aldridge's church found his body about 10 a.m. Sunday after the congregation became concerned because he didn't attend services.

Drinkard said Aldridge, 51, was found at the house that he and his wife, Jan, purchased in February. Neighbors said the wife was out of state in recent days tending to a sick relative.

Aldridge was senior pastor at the church, where he had been a minister for 16 years. A prayer service will be held at the church at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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