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Search warrant: Initial autopsy revealed no cause for RU student's death in jail cell

Search warrant: Initial autopsy revealed no cause for RU student's death in jail cell

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RADFORD — The Radford University freshman who died last week in the New River Valley Regional Jail turned down breakfast a half hour before he was found dead in his cell, the Virginia State Police said Thursday.

Also, police investigators suspect Aris Eduardo Lobo-Perez, 18, of Culpeper, was “participating in illegal recreational drug use” before his death on Sept. 12, according to a search warrant.

A week after the death of the sports management major, few concrete details have emerged about how he ended up in custody or what killed him — just hours after he was arrested on misdemeanor charges of public intoxication and underage possession or purchase of alcohol.

On Wednesday, the NAACP’s Montgomery-Radford-Floyd branch and Virginia State Conference issued a statement calling Lobo-Perez’ demise “tragic” and encouraging state police, who had already announced they were looking into the student’s death, to determine what occurred.

Information in court records, the state police news release, and brief statements from Radford University offered only an outline of Lobo-Perez’ final hours.

The brown-haired and brown-eyed teen, 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds, died Sept. 12, less than eight hours after being booked on misdemeanor charges tied to public intoxication.

A state police news release said jail personnel found Lobo-Perez unresponsive in his cell at about 7:50 a.m. They tried unsuccessfully to revive him and he was declared dead at the jail, the news release said.

Just 30 minutes before, at 7:20 a.m., “jail personnel approached Lobo-Perez to offer him breakfast, which he declined,” the news release said.

A search warrant filed to examine Lobo-Perez’ phone said that investigators examined the holding cell where Lobo-Perez was found and could not determine his cause of death. The autopsy carried out by the state medical examiner’s office in Roanoke also did not immediately find a cause of death, the search warrant said.

A staffer at the state medical examiner’s office in Roanoke said this week that doctors are awaiting the results of tests that could take four to 12 weeks to be returned.

Ashley Schumaker, vice president for university relations, wrote in an email Tuesday that RU police were called on Sept. 11 about “a disturbance in an on-campus facility” and Lobo-Perez was arrested. She declined to identify the location of the disturbance or supply a police report or other details of the incident, citing the state police’s ongoing investigation.

In a Sept. 12 statement, the university expressed “much sadness” at Lobo- Perez’s death and said grief counselors were available to help other students process the loss.

The search warrant for Lobo-Perez’s phone, a black iPhone with a cracked screen that ended up in the possession of the jail, said that the student is suspected to have been involved in drug use but offered no other information. The search warrant said investigators hope that information on the phone will tell them more about “whom or what” Lobo-Perez had come into contact with before his arrest.

Paperwork filed in Radford General District Court for the two charges placed against Lobo-Perez said only that a campus officer cited him. Summonses were issued at 11:48 p.m. and 11:49 p.m. on Sept. 11.

He was scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 24.

State police are continuing to investigate, the news release said.

Staff writers Henri Gendreau, Sam Wall and Robby Korth contributed to this article.

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