Family not satisfied with answers in park death

Alexandria Shelton smoked organic and synthetic marijuana before she drowned in a Girard Park drainage ditch last month, a report released Friday says, but her father believes the drugs found in her system don’t begin to explain the 21-year-old’s death.

“Now they’re telling me she was so high she walked into the water. It’s crazy,” her father, Norville Shelton, said Friday after his family learned results of the autopsy report.

Shelton said his family wants clearer answers, and they plan to hire a private investigator. According to a summary report on the autopsy, Alexandria Shelton had THC and synthetic marijuana in her body.

THC is the active ingredient in organic marijuana, while synthetic marijuana is made in a lab.

Shelton died from accidental drowning, and toxicity from THC and synthetic marijuana were contributing factors, the report states.

The report was released to The Acadiana Advocate following a request under Louisiana’s public records laws.

Shelton was a month from turning 22 and was nearing graduation from Grambling State University with a degree in criminal justice when she died. Shelton, the youngest of six siblings, grew up in Ossun outside Lafayette and Scott city limits. She returned home that weekend to visit family and to attend a party with friends.

Those friends became worried the night of April 12 when Shelton was hours late for the party in Lafayette. They summoned police when Shelton’s cellphone turned up in Girard Park and were there when police found Shelton’s body in the ditch in the early morning of April 13.

Shelton was pronounced dead at 3:25 a.m., according to the autopsy report.

On Friday, upon release of the autopsy, the Lafayette Police Department closed the case, Cpl. Paul Mouton said.

“Out of respect for the victim and her family, the Lafayette Police Department has no further comment,” Mouton said.

Norville Shelton said his family is frustrated with how little is known about Alexandria’s death: what she was doing in the park, why she was wearing only one shoe, why — if she tripped and fell into the water — there were no marks on her body other than a superficial abrasion to her left knee and why she just didn’t stand up when she fell.

“We’ll do our own investigation and see what turns up,” he said.

It didn’t surprise Shelton that Alexandria’s body contained illegal substances. After all, she was a college student, he said.

“It is no shock. It’s disappointing to me, but it’s no shock,” Shelton said.

On May 9, Shelton and his wife, Lucretia, accepted their daughter’s bachelor’s degree, awarded posthumously at Grambling.

“Grambling was good to us, but it was a terrible situation for us,” he said.

Alexandria was a popular student at Carencro High School and at Grambling, her father said, with excellent grades and the pluck to march through law school.

Lucretia Shelton found it hard to rise from bed in the days after Alexandria died, her husband said, but now she’s invigorated.

“She understands the fight is on now to see what really happened to Alexandria,” Shelton said.