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Mayo Clinic to do "genetic testing" in Gynnya McMillen case

HARDIN COUNTY, Ky. -- The Kentucky Medical Examiners Office has requested the Mayo Clinic's assistance in determining what caused a teenage girl to die while in a state juvenile detention center.

An autopsy on 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen, who died Jan. 11 during her one night at the Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center, has so-far been inconclusive, according to Hardin County Deputy Coroner Shana Norton.

Two separate investigations into the girl's death were ordered to be expedited by Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley. Last week, a state official told 48 Hours' Crimesider that the investigations were expected to end soon, but the Hardin County Coroner's Office announced Monday that the state has asked the Mayo Clinic -- a well known medical practice -- to do "genetic testing" in the case.

Norton said the tests may take up to 12 weeks. Officials did not say what tests are being done, or what exactly the clinic might be looking for.

Norton said the decision to contact the Mayo Clinic was unusual.

"It's nothing I've ever heard of before," she said.

The Mayo Clinic declined to answer any questions about the case, or to even confirm that it had been contacted by Kentucky officials in relation to the case.

An "Aikido restraint" was used on McMillen before her death at the detention center in Elizabethtown, Ky. Staff did not check on McMillen when -- over the course of 3 1/2 hours on Jan. 11 -- she did not respond to two offers of food, and a phone call from her mother. Emergency dispatch audio revealed staff also did not immediately attempt to resuscitate McMillen when she was found unresponsive.

Reginald Windham, a Lincoln Village employee, was placed on paid leave for failing to check on McMillen every 15 minutes, a requirement for those in isolation at the detention center in Elizabethtown. Windham was disciplined or reprimanded in five previous instances, according to BuzzFeed.

Last week, Tilley announced an "internal review" of state juvenile detention centers that may lead to changes in policies and procedures at the facilities.

In a statement emailed to 48 Hours' Crimesider, the office of Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said he "has the highest confidence in Sec. Tilley and his tireless efforts to quickly and accurately gather answers."

"As the father of five teenage daughters, Governor Bevin is heartbroken for Gynnya's family and has pledged that this case will be investigated as thoroughly as it would be if it were one of his own girls," wrote Jessica Ditto, the governor's communications director.

Ron Hillerich, an attorney who represents McMillen's mother, told 48 Hours' Crimesider on Feb. 5 that he plans to hire experts to examine surveillance video from the detention center, as well as the girl's autopsy. An online petition for the videos had more than 42,000 signatures, as of Sunday afternoon, according to Color of Change, the website where the petition is posted.

A request made by 48 Hours' Crimesider for videos from Lincoln Village was rejected by the Justice Cabinet, which cited confidentiality statutes and facility security as among the reasons for the denial.

"The department cannot release video, the disclosure of which would reveal floor plans, operations, staff movements, as well as security systems and camera locations of a secure facility operated by a public agency," wrote Nancy Birdsong, Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice ombudsman.