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12-year-old boy’s death at controversial wilderness therapy camp ruled homicide by asphyxiation: autopsy

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The death of a 12-year-old boy at a controversial outdoor therapy camp in North Carolina has been ruled a homicide, according to an autopsy report released by the state’s chief medical examiner.

The autopsy report listed the boy’s cause of death as “asphyxiation due to suffocation.” He died less than 24 hours after staying at the camp on Lake Toxaway.

“There was no significant natural cause of death or contributing to death. Non-specific findings included brain swelling. There was minor bruising to the left thigh and leg, but no significant internal injuries,” the autopsy report states.

The boy, who Fox News Digital is not identifying because of his age, had been sleeping in a bivvy bag — a bag that turns a sleeping bag into a one-person shelter — and an autopsy found that the outer solid layer of his bag had been zipped shut because the mesh layer had been torn.

North Carolina authorities reveal possible cause of death for 12-year-old boy found dead at wilderness therapy camp

The death of a 12-year-old Trails Carolina boy has been ruled a homicide, according to autopsy results released by the state’s chief medical examiner. (Trails Carolina)

The autopsy report noted that commercially available bivy products include a “general warning” that “openings should not be completely sealed as this may lead to condensation and breathing difficulties.”

The autopsy report also found that the boy’s bivvy bag had been sealed with an audible alarm to prevent him from opening it himself.

“It is unclear whether hyperthermia was a contributing factor in death as he was partially naked and the bedroom’s construction would have increased the ambient temperature. He was placed in this unsafe bedroom by others and did not have the ability to remove himself from the situation with the alarm blocking the opening. He deviated from standard protocol by using a damaged bivy and blocking the exterior weatherproof door instead of the interior mesh panel,” the report states. “The combination of these factors makes it most appropriate to find that the manner of death was a homicide.”

The autopsy report said camp counselors should have checked on the boy because they couldn’t see through the “opaque” outer panels, but didn’t.

North Carolina search warrant reveals mysterious death of 12-year-old boy at therapy camp

Trails Carolina from the air

The coroner ruled the boy’s cause of death to be “asphyxiation due to suffocation.” (Trails Carolina)

Authorities also checked the boy’s medication, and an autopsy found that three clonidine tablets were missing.

Clonidine is an antihypertensive drug that lowers blood pressure and heart rate by relaxing the arteries and increasing blood supply to the heart. National Institutes of Health. However, “tests did not detect elevated levels or toxicity of clonidine,” the autopsy report states.

The boy was found dead in the shed on February 3rd. At Trails Carolina, According to the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office.

The boy had been sent to the camp from his home in New York by his parents because he was reported to have behavioral problems.

The boy was restless and talking in his sleep the first night, according to an investigative report, and a camp counselor described him as “unruly,” but an autopsy found no history of seizures.

The boy was found the following morning on his right side with his head resting on the bottom of the tapered bivvy bag.

According to the autopsy report, after emergency medical personnel arrived, the boy’s condition had progressed so severe that rigor mortis had set in that it was no longer possible to save his life, and he had likely been dead for several hours.

Trails Carolina Therapeutic Camp suspends new enrollments pending investigation into death of 12-year-old boy

Lake Toxaway, North Carolina

The boy had been sent to the camp by his parents because he was reported to have behavioral problems. (Trails Carolina)

Fox News Digital has been in contact with Trails Carolina throughout the investigation and is awaiting release on the autopsy results.

The camp previously told Fox News Digital that there was “no evidence of criminal or suspicious activity” and that it was following the guidance of law enforcement in its investigation.

The Transylvania Sheriff’s Office also released a statement to Fox News Digital saying they would “not discuss any details of the investigation.”

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“As stated in the press release, we are reviewing the ME report in conjunction with the criminal investigation and plan to meet with the District Attorney,” the sheriff’s office said.

Following the boy’s death, Trails Carolina suspended new enrollment at the camp while the investigation continues.

Fox News Digital’s Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.

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