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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Girl’s death under investigation


    Anderson County sheriff’s authorities are investigating the “”equivocal death”” of an 8-year-old Palestine girl who was found deceased Sunday night near her residence outside of Palestine.

    Tori Blair Wilson, 8, a second-grader at Westwood Primary School, was pronounced dead at Palestine Regional Medical Center Sunday night after local authorities were dispatched to a “”medical emergency/possible suicide”” northwest of the Palestine city limits, according to Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor.

    The preliminary results of an autopsy performed on the girl’s body Monday at Southeast Texas Forensic Science Center in Tyler proved inconclusive, according to the sheriff.

    “”The official preliminary (ruling) is it’s still under investigation,”” Taylor said.

    Anderson County Sheriff’s Capt. Jay Russell and Allen Douglas, an investigator with the Anderson County district attorney’s office, attended Monday’s autopsy.

    Taylor said his agency was dispatched to the residence at 8:48 p.m. Sunday.

    Emergency Medical Services personnel and local volunteer firefighters were present at the scene when sheriff’s Sgt. Ronnie Howell arrived there at 8:52 p.m. Sunday, according to the sheriff.

    “”Apparently, they discovered this child in a little wooded area behind the house,”” Taylor said. “”The kids (from the neighborhood) had been playing and went in. She went back out.””

    After “”a period of time,”” the young girl was noticed to be missing and a group of persons, including adults, began to search for her, the sheriff explained.

    The young girl was found unresponsive in the woods, according to Taylor.

    “”EMS was called and took her to the hospital from the scene by ambulance,”” the sheriff said. “”She (Wilson) was pronounced dead there.””

    While providing only limited information, Taylor told the Herald-Press the girl’s death did not appear to be from natural causes.

    Taylor said his agency was investigating the girl’s death as an “”equivocal death”” and indicated it was not believed to be a homicide. He also said he did not believe any other persons were present at the time of her death.

    In a published article, Vernon J. Geberth, former commander of the Bronx Homicide Division of the New York City Police Department, said equivocal deaths “”may resemble homicides or suicides, accidents or naturals”” and are “”open to interpretation pending further investigation of the facts, the victimology and the circumstances of the event.””

    Westwood Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Ed Lyman said counselors were made available to the district’s students, particularly at Westwood Primary School, Monday “”to try to help the children through the grieving process.

    “”We’re a small community school and something this tragic and traumatic affects everyone,”” Lyman said. “”…Our hearts go out to the family members. I cannot imagine anything more devastating than to lose a child.””

    Taylor said representatives of his agency were in the process of interviewing roughly a dozen or so children — most of whom are pre-teens — who knew or had been playing with the girl prior to her death.

    “”They are still interviewing kids over at the Crisis Center (of Anderson & Cherokee Counties),”” Taylor said late Monday afternoon.

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