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New Details Emerge in Gynnya McMillen's Death

Gynnya McMillen
Justice for Gynnya McMillen Facebook page
Gynnya McMillen

The 16-year-old girl who died in a Kentucky juvenile-detention center last week was found unresponsive on a bed in a private room, according to the state Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

Gynnya McMillen was discovered “in a sleeping position” in a “secure” room at the Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Hardin County. It appears she died in her sleep, the cabinet said.

The new details provide a slightly clearer portrait of a seemingly mysterious death in a state-run juvenile detention center, the first such incident in Kentucky in 16 years.

A preliminary autopsy report “shows no cause or manner of death,” according to the statement issued late Thursday afternoon by the cabinet. The Hardin County coroner previously told WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting that there were no obvious signs of trauma or a drug overdose, and that a toxicology report will take several weeks. (Read "Gynnya McMillen’s Death In A Kentucky Detention Center: What We Know")

Cabinet Secretary John Tilley has asked that the medical tests “be expedited,” spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said.

Questions about the circumstances surrounding Gynnya’s death have swept through Kentucky and beyond since she died on Jan. 11. Her family and friends have demanded answers, while others have questioned whether the death was natural.

The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, which oversees the state’s eight secure juvenile-detention centers, and the Kentucky State Police Post 4 in Elizabethtown are investigating. The cabinet’s internal investigations branch also is probing the death.

In response to questions from KyCIR, Lamb said Lincoln Village policy “requires observation checks be made on a resident every 15 minutes.” The policy also dictates that that residents not be left unattended “unless that room has a camera in it.”

It was not clear whether state officials believe that policy was followed in Gynnya’s case. State offices were closed on Friday due to bad weather and Lamb was not immediately available for follow-up.

Felicia Garr, Gynnya’s aunt and spokeswoman for the family, did not respond to two telephone messages left for her Friday morning.

Gynnya was taken into custody following a physical altercation at a Shelby County residence shortly before 2 a.m. on Jan. 10, according to Kelly Cable, spokesman for the Shelbyville Police Department. Cable said Gynnya was the “perpetrator,” and that she was charged with misdemeanor assault after the alleged victim incurred what Cable described as “minor injuries.”

Less than 24 hours later, she was found dead in her Lincoln Village room. State Police have said “no foul play” is suspected.

[documentcloud url=https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2694314-Gynnya-McMillen-funeral-bulletin.html format=normal sidebar=false ]

Reporter R.G. Dunlop can be reached at rdunlop@kycir.org or (502) 814.6533.

R.G. Dunlop is an award-winning investigative reporter whose work has exposed government corruption and resulted in numerous reforms. Email R.G. at rdunlop@lpm.org.