Coroner: Grambling State student died by accidental drowning

Alexandria Shelton accidentally drowned in the drainage ditch where her body was found after midnight Sunday, said Lafayette Police Sgt. Randal Leger.

An autopsy showed her death was an accidental drowning and there were no signs of foul play, Leger said.

The 21-year-old Lafayette woman was a senior at Grambling State University on track to graduate next month with a degree in criminal justice, according to a news release issued Monday by the university.

Her body was found near a drainage ditch in Girard Park after midnight Sunday.

The young woman attended classes Friday, according to the release. University officials encouraged Shelton’s classmates, faculty and staff to contact Lafayette police or Grambling campus police if they have any information that may be helpful to the investigation.

“We’ve just been in shock since we first heard early Sunday that the body of a young woman found in a Lafayette city park was likely one of our own,” said Frank Pogue, Grambling president, in the release. “We immediately reached out to the family and we’ve been cooperating with Lafayette police. We know how important the first 24 to 48 hours of a police investigation can be.”

Shelton had planned to meet some friends on Stewart Street in downtown Lafayette on Saturday night, but when she never showed up, her friends became worried, said Lafayette Police Cpl. Paul Mouton. Her friends called her cellphone and a man answered, saying he found the phone in the park. When her friends arrived at the park, they retrieved the phone from two men and called police. Officers found the woman’s vehicle in the parking lot and located Shelton’s body in the drainage ditch, Mouton said.

Police identified and interviewed the two men who found the victim’s phone and they were able to provide investigators with specific information about the phone’s location, Mouton said in a news release Monday.

He said the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact CrimeStoppers at 232-TIPS.