PITTSFIELD — Family members of Jenna French, whose body was found Friday afternoon in the trunk of a locked car, say she had taken her life amid dealing with many issues she didn’t feel as though she could handle.

“There was no trauma to her or anything. It was her own … we’re waiting for toxicology reports,” Madalyn Ring, French’s grandmother, said in an interview at her home in Pittsfield Monday afternoon.

Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Saturday that there was no indication of foul play. An autopsy was started Saturday morning and the medical examiner was running additional tests.

Ring, who lived with French and her two children, saw her granddaughter for the last time Tuesday morning. When French, 30, did not return home, Ring drove around town looking for her. She found French’s Chevrolet Malibu in the parking lot of the Palmyra Walmart that evening and assumed French had gone off with a friend and left her car.

Ring returned to the parking lot to check for the car each day and filed a missing person report with the Pittsfield police Thursday. On Friday, Ring, who co-signed for the car when it was purchased, decided to have it towed to the Varney Chevrolet dealership on Somerset Avenue so that a key could be made to unlock the car.

No family members were at the dealership when French’s body was found.

Ring, as well as French’s mother, Rebecca Smith, describe French as someone who was under a lot of stress and dealing with issues that were complicating her life at the time of her death.

A recent photograph of Jenna French of Pittsfield who was reported missing last week and was found deceased in the trunk of a car after it was towed from the Wal-Mart in Palmyra to a Pittsfield car dealership last Friday.

She struggled with mental and physical illnesses which weighed on her. Throughout her life she had to manage the depression and anxiety that came with bipolar disorder. A lung disease made French prone to pneumonia and at times made it difficult to breathe.

This past fall French’s health took a turn and she had to be taken by LifeFlight to the hospital in Bangor.

“We thought we lost her,” Ring said. French had to be intubated and put on a ventilator for 11 days until she recovered.

French’s family does not want people to remember her by the way that she died, but as friends and family knew her: an outgoing, adventurous and caring woman who loved her children fiercely.

French was the kind of mother who regularly recorded her children’s heights by engraving small dashes into the door frame.

She’d go all out for cookouts and birthday parties, most recently transforming their home into an oceanside scene for her son Logan’s sixth birthday party.

“She rolled up the rug and put sand all over the floors and took things off the walls so she could put up blue streamers so it would look like ocean waves,” Ring said.

Her love for the beach and water was something she shared with her kids often by taking them on trips to the coast to collect sea glass and to the Boston Aquarium so they could see the fish.

“She was crazy about animals,” Ring said, citing the two dogs and cat who roamed their home, as well as the bearded dragon French’s 14-year-old daughter, Kelsie, keeps in a heated habitat.

Ring and Smith said French was the type of person who would help anyone out, no matter the time or circumstance.

“If she knew someone out there needed something and she had it, she would give it to them, or she would find a way to get it for them,” Ring said. “She took care of everyone except herself.”

French grew up in Pittsfield with Ring and attended school at Maine Central Institute. She has a half-brother and half-sister who live in Texas and two brothers who live in Newport and Glenburn.

She became pregnant with Kelsie as a teenager and finished her high school studies at Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers.

She later married Kelsie’s father and her childhood sweetheart, Matt. The couple then had their son, Logan, but later divorced and have remained good friends.

French’s days were spent as a stay-at-home mother, taking the kids to school and appointments. In her downtime, she knitted blankets and made crafts. She also had a standing dinner date with her mother on Tuesdays at China Way in Newport. Sometimes the two would go shopping for boots and clothes, get their hair done and just talk.

“It was a mother-daughter, best friend type deal,” Smith said.

Smith and Ring were looking through old pictures of French Monday afternoon. In some French was pictured as a smiling young girl and in others she was an adult making silly faces with her children. The two lingered over a photo French had taken just a few weeks ago.

“She’s a beautiful, beautiful girl,” Smith said.

Ring said French’s attitude toward the world was like her grandfather’s, Ring’s deceased husband.

“Some people get up in the morning and are like ‘Oh, god, don’t talk to me. I want coffee.’ But they would get up and be like ‘Watch out world, here I come!'” Ring said. “Their feet hit the floor and they were ready to face the day and tackle the world.”

Friends and family will be able to share their own memories of French at a celebration of her life at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Sebasticook Elks Lodge on Middle Road in Pittsfield.

“The friends that count, the friends that cared — they will be there,” Ring said.

As for how the family will move on, Smith said they’ll find a way.

“Evenutally our family will wrap our heads around this and find peace for her,” she said. “She’s got two beautiful children and she’s going to live on through them.”

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg

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