Ashley Turton dead: Wife of White House aide found in burning car

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The wife of a White house official was found dead in a burnt garage attached to the couple's Capitol Hill home Monday morning.

The victim was identified as Ashley Turton, a lobbyist for utility giant Progress Energy and the wife of White House Congressional liaison Daniel Turton. Her body was discovered inside a BMW at the couple's 800 A St. SE residence after responders extinguished an early morning blaze inside the garage.

"Ashley was a valued employee whose insight and hard work had been critical on so many of our legislative and regulatory issues," Bill Johnson, president and CEO of Progress Energy said in a statement. "She was also a dear friend to many of us and this news is very hard to take. I know we all will keep her husband, children and parents in our thoughts and prayers."

Progress Energy on Monday announced a merger with Duke Energy. In the statement, Johnson said the death of Turton, a former Hill staffer for U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., served as a reminder to "to keep perspective in all things."

A telephone message left at the home number listed for Daniel Turton, whose marriage was previously featured in a Politico report, was not immediately returned. Turton is the White House deputy director of legislative affairs for the House. The couple had three children.

"She was special," DeLauro said in a statement. "She was special as a pioneering chief-of-staff who knew how to make the House of Representatives work for people. She was a leader and comrade in arms to so many staff. She was a member of our family, and we mourn her."

D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Pete Piringer says crews were called to the house at around 5 a.m. and discovered an SUV engulfed in flames. The vehicle was located in a garage behind the house, and neighbors contacted authorities about the fire.

"We have no evidence of any obvious malfeasance in her death at this time," D.C. police Capt. Michael Farish told the Washington Post.

Piringer says the SUV might have crashed into the home's garage at a low speed. It was pulled out of the garage shortly after 10 a.m., as a crowd of onlookers gathered to watch.

A source told the Post that the SUV was stopped at a "weird angle" in the garage. He said there was significant fire damage to the car.

The Metropolitan Police Department and D.C. Fire Department are investigating the crash.