The 37-year-old, who was crowned Miss North Dakota USA in 2003, was found unresponsive by a friend at her home in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Police reports indicates no sign of trauma and the cause of death is being investigated.

A representative of the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants wrote on their Facebook page, "We were saddened to hear of the passing on one of the most vibrant, energetic, and full-loving titleholders we have had the honor to meet from our state pageants. Although Samantha was not a titleholder during our directorship, her impact on us and those around her was very apparent. Sam's smile and her energy will be terribly missed..."

Samantha's friend Jessica Dereschuk, Miss Minnesota USA 2004, has created a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral costs and donations have already surpassed the $15,000 (£11,000) goal.

A funeral is set to take place on 24 June (16) in Samantha's hometown of Grand Forks in North Dakota.