Coroner's office, sheriff's department investigate death of Ridge Farm girl

Coroner's office, sheriff's department investigate death of Ridge Farm girl

RIDGE FARM — Officials from the Vermilion County Coroner's Office and the Vermilion County Sheriff's Department say they are investigating the possibility that bullying may have been a factor in the suicide death of a 10-year-old Ridge Farm girl over the weekend.

Vermilion County Coroner Peggy Johnson said Ashlynn R. Conner, 10, of Ridge Farm was pronounced dead at 8:51 p.m. Friday at Provena United Samaritans Medical Center in Danville.

Vermilion County Sheriff Pat Hartshorn said the death is being treated at this time as a suicide.

"It is a suicide as far as we are concerned," Hartshorn said.

Johnson said an autopsy was performed on Saturday by a pathologist, but it will be at least six weeks before her office will have the final cause of death while it waits for the results of toxicology tests.

Johnson said the preliminary autopsy results will be released today.

"There are all kinds of aspects of this death to look into," Johnson said Sunday afternoon. "Bullying was brought up to us as a piece of the investigation, and we are still finding out information."

Johnson said the reported bullying may have been both in person or by way of Twitter, e-mail or cellphone.

"Since the bullying issues were brought up, we need to investigate them," Johnson said.

"We have not yet uncovered any evidence of bullying going on," Hartshorn said Sunday afternoon.

School officials said Saturday night that grief counselors would be available at Ridge Farm Elementary School today for students who want to talk about Ashlynn's death.

The district said its four counselors will be available as usual and an outside agency specializing in crisis debriefing will be at the school today. Classes throughout the district will begin at normal times.

In addition, the school board will have a special meeting at 6 p.m. todayprior to its regular meeting at 7 p.m. to discuss future counseling needs for students.

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Heather J. wrote on November 13, 2011 at 9:11 pm

So very tragic and heartbreaking. Thoughts, prayers and condolences to her family and friends. 

Kelly Hucal Karthik wrote on November 14, 2011 at 11:11 am

this story is very sad and a tragedy.  all children need to be taught that even heavy children have beauty and true value...just like themselves.  there are no throw away people in this world.  when you see a kid being bullied...it is your duty to stick up for them and report it.  what if this was your sister....daughter....child?  never ever tolerate bullying...on line...tweets...phone calls...messages...rumors...verbal and/or physical bullying.  if you don't report it...you are just as guilty.  if you don't teach this to your children...you are not doing your job.  prayers to this mother...family and community.   :(

FCook wrote on November 14, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide can get free information about coping with their grief at http://www.save.org/coping. People may also contact me at fcook@save.org, and I will be helpful if I can be. Franklin Cook, Director of Survivor and Bereavement Programs, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)