Sheriff’s Office investigates teen’s death

SIDNEY — The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a Houston-area teenager on April 19.

“Normally we do not comment on suicides involving a juvenile for many reasons, their family and the fact that the investigation is not officially closed until the results of an autopsy are completed, but due to recent ‘chatter’ on social media about the Hardin Houston School District, we have been compelled to make a comment to set the record straight,” said Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jim Frye.

According to Frye, on April 19, 2019, at 1 a.m., the Sheriff’s Office received a report of a female juvenile who had committed suicide at her residence. The responding deputies called for the detectives to respond to the scene, as would be the case with any juvenile death.

“It was found that the juvenile was a foster child placed in Shelby County by Isaiah’s Place from Logan County,” said Frye. “The foster parents had received a call from the juvenile’s boyfriend out of concern for her because she had sent him a picture that depicted her trying to harm herself. The parents then went to check on her and found her locked in her room, gained entry and placed her on the floor in an attempt to revive her.”

Detectives found the juvenile’s journal, which was up to date as of April 18, they interviewed the foster parents, interviewed the boyfriend, spoke with the school and examined her cell phone. They conducted an extensive investigation, found no wrongdoing or suspicion this wasn’t a suicide and were comfortable with their conclusion.

“The Hardin Houston School District was made aware of the situation involving one of their students and they acted immediately,” said Frye. “The faculty, including Mr. Ryan Maier and Superintendent Mr. Larry Claypool had a staff meeting to prepare for what they would need to do for the students. They made arrangements for the school to have counselors and clergy at the school, for any student or staff that may need to speak with someone. They had approximately 15 students that participated in receiving services.”

Claypool said he is in mourning for the student and her family.

“We do our best to take care of all our students,” said Claypool. “The school officials had a close relationship with her and with all of our students. We love our kids. We pray for them. We are heartbroken over her death.”

Frye also addressed all the comments on social media concerning the teen’s death.

“Recently, as of Tuesday, there have been comments made about the school not taking bullying seriously and that bullying was the reason the juvenile took her own life,” said Frye. “This is absurd for two reasons, one being that the Hardin Houston School District’s staff and Board of Education take bullying serious and have plans in place to address any complaints of or reports of bullying.

“Secondly, during the investigation, from the juveniles own words through her journal and her phone, she made reference as to what was bothering her and it had nothing to do with the school or anything to do with bullying. Several members of the faculty spoke with the juvenile the last day of school just before she left for the day, she had even played pass with a football in the gym with a principal. Everyone stated she was upbeat, ready for her upcoming 16th birthday and many other things she was looking forward to,”said Frye.

“When we investigate cases involving a death, it is very hard for all of those involved. I always tell people right from the start, that they will have questions that we will never have answers for, which this case is no different, as I am sure there are questions people have that we will never have an answer for.

“I can though, tell you that this juvenile was an exceptional student, who aspired to get good grades, which she did and to spend time with her boyfriend. This situation or cause of death had nothing to do with the Hardin Houston School District or bullying. I will not go into detail as to the reason for the suicide, for the sake of her foster or biological family,” said Frye.

He also said if anyone is feeling like they are contemplating suicide, the person should reach out to a family member, friend, teacher or anyone they trust to help them.

“If I can get one thing across to someone contemplating suicide, remember ‘suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem’,” said Frye.