Justice

“After the Uprising”: An Allegedly Error-Ridden Medical Report Raised Questions About Danyé Jones’ Death

Something didn’t add up in the death of Danyé Jones. From the moment the young activist was found hanged from a tree in his backyard, his family has fought back against what they say is a series of stonewalling and suspicious inaccuracies.

Something didn’t add up in the death of Danyé Jones. From the moment the young activist was found hanged from a tree in his backyard, his family has fought back against what they say is a pattern of stonewalling and suspicious inaccuracies in the official record of events.

From the moment authorities arrived on the scene to the years of roadblocks that have followed for Danyé’s family in their quest for answers, the family believes they have found numerous mistakes, misinterpretations, and outright falsehoods in the investigations conducted by the St. Louis County Police Department and St. Louis County Medical Examiner.

Individually, a single good-faith error isn’t dispositive of a shoddy investigation, but the sheer amount involved in the death of Danyé Jones, along with what many Ferguson activists insist is the long history of their being targeted by the powers-that-be in St. Louis County, paint the picture of a mysterious death that is nowhere near as clean cut as the authorities claim.

Even the smallest errors can evince a larger pattern of uncertainty. Take something as simple as Danyé’s height. According to his family, and his state ID, Danyé stood 6’ tall and weighed 160 pounds. But in the official medical examiner’s report, Danyé was either 5’7’’ or 5’10 and 150 pounds. A seemingly harmless mistake, but if the authorities can’t get something as objective as a height and weight correct, how can they be so sure of their declaration that his death was a suicide?

Consider the matter of when Danyé was last seen alive. The report states that his mother, Melissa McKinnies, walked past her son in the backyard. “That is a flat out lie,” according to Melissa. His family states that the last person to see Danyé alive was his uncle, Daniel, who watched Danyé leave the house carrying a backpack at what he estimates to have been around 9:00 at night. Before that, he had been in the basement watching an NBA basketball game with his stepfather, Derek. It’s not dispositive of foul play, but minor mistakes such as these raise alarming questions about the thoroughness and accuracy of the official inquiry, especially when it comes to more subjective questions like Danyé’s mental state.

The medical examiner’s report, which was completed by the County in January 2019, lists several pieces of evidence that contributed to their ruling of Danyé’s death nearly three months prior as a suicide. The first is a text to his sister, Melisha, reading simply “Sorry Sis,” to which she replied “Love you.” According to the authorities, this was Danyé’s way of saying goodbye prior to taking his own life. According to Melisha herself, she acknowledges that Danyé was distracted and that “something was not right” with him, but she believes he meant the text as an apology to her for not being attentive to her and her toddler son on their recent visit.

Another claim used by the medical examiner to bolster their suicide theory were statements supposedly from the family declaring that Danyé suffered from depression throughout the years. His family denies making such a statement, arguing that it was an open-ended question that’s been misinterpreted as a definitive declaration. Danyé was never medically diagnosed as depressed. The report further states that Danyé’s recently started real estate business “did not succeed” and that he was “dealing with rumors of being a homosexual,” both of which his family firmly denied discussing with the investigators during their interviews. Moreover, Danyé’s family states that the investigators never asked them about the positive things going on in Danyé’s life, like reconnecting with an ex-girlfriend and making plans to meet up with her soon, which could explain the overnight bag Danyé had packed that day.

Questions of behavior and state of mind are one thing, but when it comes to science such as DNA, mistakes are even more unacceptable. Incredibly, the medical examiner’s report never mentions DNA once, because the testing of the bed sheet from which Danyé was hanged was conducted by the St. Louis Police Department’s crime lab. However, a conversation between a podcast investigator and Dr. Gershom Norfleet, a forensic pathologist with the County Medical Examiner’s Office, reveals some shocking second-hand information about the results.

Unsurprisingly, considering that the bed sheet was zipped into Danyé’s body bag and not isolated as evidence, Danyé’s DNA was found in the fabric. It was not alone, however. According to Norfleet, at least one additional set of male DNA was found on the bed sheet, yet the authorities never requested samples from the other men in the house to eliminate them as suspects. Furthermore, there was a conspicuous lack of DNA from Danyé’s mother Melissa on the sheets, considering that she handled the laundry in the house. This also seems to correspond with statements made by Danyé’s family during their first press conference that they were certain the sheet was not from their home. Why was the DNA evidence seemingly swept under the rug? How can the officials seemingly ignore oddities like Danyé’s pants being rolled down and the complicated knot used to make the noose? Did the county simply not take his case seriously, or is something more sinister afoot?

Hear more about the allegedly inadequate investigation from Danyé’s family in their own words on the third episode of ‘After the Uprising,’ featuring powerful rebuttals and in-depth debunkings of the official story, along with shocking revelations from authorities involved in the case. Make sure to follow ‘After the Uprising’ on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for further updates and insights on Danyé’s story.

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