Juvenile detention center employee suspended as coroner investigates mysterious death

Employee suspended as coroner investigates mysterious death of teen in juvenile detention center
Published: Jan. 28, 2016 at 3:37 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 13, 2016 at 3:57 AM EST
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ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (WAVE) - An employee at the Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center in Elizabethtown is suspended after the death of a teenager in the center on Jan. 10.

Wednesday, the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice said its investigation into the death of 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen revealed an employee failed to make the proper 15-minute bed checks.

So far, Hardin County Coroner Dr. Bill Lee has not been able to determine a cause of death for McMillen.

"We got to find the answers," Lee said.

[RELATED: Girl found dead at juvenile detention center in Elizabethtown]

Lee said McMillen was arrested after her mother told police McMillen had assaulted her.

In the morning, Lee said McMillen's mother called to talk to her but when employees went back to where she was staying, she did not respond and they believed she was asleep. A couple hours later, they did a second check because McMillen had not moved, according to Lee.

"When they saw her unresponsive, that's when they started CPR and EMS arrived and they said, 'hey, she's beyond resuscitation,'" Lee said. "If policies weren't followed then corrections need to be made."

Lee said while he and his office deal with death all the time, losing someone so young is especially tough.

[MORE: 4 bodies recovered in Adair Co. house explosion identified]

"It is touching anytime you lose a young person when you're assuming that they're in good health,"
Lee said.

His initial physical report found no cause of dead and ruled out foul play and blunt force trauma.

"There's no reason for her to be dead," Lee said.

The lack of answers has created national attention and more than 10,000 people have joined a Facebook page called 'Justice for Gynnya McMillen.'

"I can assure people that the Hardin County Coroner's Office is not hiding anything," Lee said. "If we had anything to share then we could." 

Lee said a lab in Indianapolis is running more tests including toxicology. He said due to a large number of tests and a low number of workers, that process could take up to six weeks.

"People see CSI and those kind of programs on TV and they think a death, you can just solve,"
Lee said. "That's just not the real world, unfortunately." 

The Department of Corrections said there is video showing McMillen's cell, but that because she is a juvenile, it will not be released.

Lee said in 30 years as a coroner, he's only had five or six cases which have been deemed as an undetermined cause of death and he hopes McMillen will not be another one.

"We are working on this diligently and we want answers as well as anyone else," Lee said.

Multiple messages left for McMillen's family members were not returned as of Wednesday evening.

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