Coroner releases report on Petee girl
By Jane Beathard
There were no signs of struggle or foul play on the body of 11-year-old London resident Hailey Petee, according to a report issued Friday by Madison County Coroner James Kaehr, M.D.
There was no autopsy. However, evidence collected at the scene and interviews with family members led Dr. Kaehr to conclude the child died of suicide by hanging.
As expected, the report’s three clinical pages mirrored findings in the London Police Department’s incident report.
“Hailey had experienced significant domestic and social stressors,” Kaehr’s report said.
Evidence in the girl’s basement bedroom revealed she experimented with tying nooses – other than the one that took her life.
She was last seen alive by an older sister about 9:45 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26, and appeared to be fine. Her mother, Melinda Groce, discovered Petee’s body hanging in the bedroom at 12:15 a.m. Jan. 27.
“There were no defensive wounds or signs of struggle. No other wounds or evidence of…injury were seen…on Hailey’s body,” the report noted.
She had no history of substance abuse or suicidal tendencies. A review of her physician’s records showed prescriptions for attention deficit disorder and insomnia. However, both conditions were under control with medication.
Suicidal tendencies are not a known side-effect of the Adderall XR Petee was prescribed, Kaehr noted.
While suicides of pre-teen girls are extremely rare in the United States, those suicides by hanging are even more rare, according to Julie Cerel, a suicide prevention and bereavement specialist with the University of Kentucky.
Virtually all are the result of mounting stress from a variety of sources. Cerel compared suicide to juggling.
“Most people can juggle one ball or even two balls,” Cerel said. “But as the number of balls increase, it becomes more and more difficult to juggle,” she said.
Child suicides are impulsive acts generally triggered by a single stressor or event.
“Victims don’t think through their actions at the moment,” Cerel said.