CBSN

Officials: Ky. teen died in cell from rare disorder

Gynnya McMillen

LaChe Simms via Facebook

FRANKFORT, Ky. --The Kentucky State Medical Examiner has ruled that a teenage girl who died in January at a state juvenile detention center had a rare genetic disorder that caused an irregular heartbeat.

Investigators said at a press conference Wednesday that "no trauma or external injury" played into the death of 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen, who passed away in her cell on Jan. 11 at the Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center in Elizabethtown, Ky. However, evidence will be presented to a grand jury in the case, and an internal investigation found "a pattern of employee misconduct" at the facility.

Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley said nearly 60 hours of video surveillance footage will be released to McMillen's family after the Kentucky State Police and Hardin County prosecutors complete their investigation into the girl's death.

McMillen was brought to the ground by staffers using an "aikido restraint" and held there for four minutes and 15 seconds as a pat down was conducted. Officials said the initial restraint was recorded, but McMillen was brought down behind a counter, which obscured the camera's view of her while she was on the ground. Employees could be seen on camera during that time, officials said.

Barney Kinman, the director of the Justice Cabinet's Internal Investigations Branch, said another camera that normally could have provided a more direct recording of the Jan. 10 take down was reported broken earlier that week.

Tilley said the restraint was "given special scrutiny. Investigators have all found that it played absolutely no role in her death."

The restraint was roughly 24 hours before she was found dead, according to a timeline of her stay at Lincoln Village released by officials Wednesday.

gynnya-timeline.jpg
A timeline depicting the hours Gynnya McMillen spent at the Lincoln Village Detention Center in Elizabethtown, Ky., where she was found dead in her cell on Jan. 11, 2016.
Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet

McMillen passed away during the one night she spent at Lincoln Village, circumstances which led to vigils and widespread calls for answers related to her death. Donna Stewart, a state medical examiner's office pathologist, said the Mayo Clinic determined McMillen had Inherited Long QT Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that can cause cardiac arrhythmia, also known as an irregular heartbeat.

She said teenagers with the condition often show no signs beforehand. 11 other pathologists reviewed the Mayo Clinic's findings, according to Stewart.

Although officials say McMillen's death was the result of natural causes, Tilley said as a result of the internal investigation, one employee has been fired, two were placed on special investigative leave, two others face suspension and third who would have been suspended has resigned.

The investigation found that staff failed to provide adequate supervision, falsified documents and acted unprofessionally, Tilley said.

"Some of the misconduct smacks of outright indifference," Tilley said. He described one instance captured on video in which an employee offered McMillen a sandwich. When she didn't reply, he allegedly closed the door to her cell and later ate the sandwich himself.

A Lincoln Village employee and former state Juvenile Justice Department commissioner Bob Hayter were already fired last month because of the investigations into McMillen's death.

bob-hayter.jpg

Bob Hayter, the former commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, who was fired in Feb. 2016, as a result of an investigation into the Jan. 11, 2016, death of 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen.

CBS affiliate WLKY

Hayter received notice of his firing on Feb. 5, the same day that detention center staffer Reginald Windham was terminated for failing to make required bed checks ever 15 minutes, and for falsifying records related to those checks, according to documents obtained by 48 Hours' Crimesider.

"I conducted most of the 15 minute period checks on (McMillen)," Windham wrote in his report. "Youth appeared asleep throughout the night. I made my last check at 05:45 hour while Mr. Holt was on duty first shift supervisor. We both was in intake everything appeared normal (sic)."

Kinman said internal investigators found that dozens of checks were missed that night.

"The longest void of time when she was not checked was 1 hour and 53 minutes," Kinman said, adding that there were two other gaps of more than an hour.

The staffers placed on leave were not immediately identified. Tilley said video from the facility will be turned over to McMillen's family after the Kentucky State Police finish its investigation into the girl's death, and turn over its findings to a prosecutor.

Investigators are nearing the conclusion of their death investigation, according to police, and the prosecutor will bring the case to a grand jury.

An attorney for McMillen's family could not be reached for comment.