Smothering and manual strangulation are not uncommon in domestic violence against women; however, no report on the combination of mechanical asphyxia and intracranial vascular malformations has been previously published. We report a middle-aged woman who was smothered and manually strangled by her husband and subsequently died from subarachnoid hemorrhage due to ruptured intracranial vascular malformations, rather than direct mechanical asphyxiation. Smothering and manual strangulation are considered provocative conditions for rupture and contributory causes of death. In this case study, we underline the importance of meticulous autopsy in cases of mechanical asphyxia and intracranial hemorrhage. Exclusion of underlying diseases that may have caused or contributed to death is also required, despite serious asphyxiation signs and neck injuries. Postmortem angiography is a valuable complement to autopsy to detect vascular pathology, with good prospects for further development in China.