Coroner reopens investigation into death of Lake Central teen

2012-11-09T22:00:00Z 2013-01-27T17:48:06Z Coroner reopens investigation into death of Lake Central teenSusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com
November 09, 2012 10:00 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey announced Friday she is reopening the case into the sudden death of a Lake Central High School student in August.

Up to now, Frey has declined to release the final autopsy report on 17-year-old Levi Evans, both to await final results of toxicology tests and to inform the teen's parents, who are divorced, prior to public release.

Both parents in recent weeks have met with Frey and learned the autopsy results.

But on Friday, Frey's office released news the case is being reviewed based on receiving new information.

"It's imperative we look at all possible contributing factors," Frey later said.

Evans was found dead on school property in August with no apparent signs of trauma or foul play, authorities have said.

The boy, who turned 17 on June 22, was last seen at 4:26 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Taco Bell restaurant on U.S. 41, steps from the Lake Central property. He visited the restaurant frequently during dinner breaks from marching band practice at the Freshman Center.

Three residents of nearby Ventura Estates found Evans' body about 6:35 p.m. in a field behind the restaurant. The field was bordered by black silk construction fencing adjacent to a new NIPSCO electrical substation. The teen wasn’t in the newly activated substation, which has a 7-foot-high fence, St. John Police Chief Fred Frego said at the time.

This week, Frego said based on all obtainable information, which includes the final autopsy report and a videotape shot by Lake Central surveillance equipment, he did not believe electric shock was a factor in the boy's death.

According to the autopsy report, the cause of death was determined to be a rare heart disorder known as endocardial fibroelastosis.

The condition is defined as a rare heart disorder usually affecting infants and children and characterized by a thickening within the muscular lining of the heart chambers caused by an increase in the connective tissue and elastic fibers.

A review by The Times of the surveillance tape shows Evans walking toward the fence surrounding the transformer and suddenly dropping to the ground about 8 to 10 feet from the fence.

Frey on Friday dismissed suspicions of electric shock but said her office has requested reports from NIPSCO and also on weather conditions at the time.

"We're working very closely with our pathologist and reviewing all information on evidence in the case," Frey said.

While the (coroner's) office is in contact with NIPSCO, there has been no contact with the school at this time, Frey said.

Frego said all toxicology tests have been completed, showing all negative results.

Unclear Friday is whether the boy's body has been cremated as sought by the boy's mother, Karen Evans.

The boy's father and grandmother, Levi Evans Sr. and Ann Simms, in recent days have said they are not aware of any action taken by Karen Evans. Authorities close to the investigation said they also are unaware of any action taken regarding the teen's body.

The boy's father had sought unsuccessfully to prevent cremation until the cause of death was determined.

Attorneys for both of the boy's parents have not responded to telephone calls from The Times in recent weeks inquiring into reports of potential legal action.

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About St. John

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10955 W. 93rd Avenue St. John, IN 46373
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