What we know and what we don't about death of Oklahoma teen Nex Benedict

A police investigation is underway after a 16-year-old Owasso High School student died earlier this month after sustaining injuries in an altercation on school grounds. Medical examiners are still completing their investigation into what killed Nex Benedict, but police said Feb. 21 that an autopsy determined Nex did not die as a result of trauma.

The news of the high school sophomore's death has generated widespread attention, in part because of the student's gender-expansive identity and claims of bullying that led up to the fight.

More: Family identifies Nex Benedict as nonbinary Oklahoma teen who died after bathroom beating

Authorities have disclosed some information in the last week in an attempt to dispel rumors circulating online, but many questions remain unanswered, though, including what killed the 16-year-old.

What we know, and what we don't about, the death of Nex Benedict

What has the Owasso Police Department said happened that day?

Owasso student Nex Benedict
Owasso student Nex Benedict

According to the Owasso Police Department, officers were called to Bailey Medical Center at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 7 by the parent of a 16-year-old female student from Owasso High School.

Penny Hamrick, an Owasso police detective, wrote in a search warrant filed in Tulsa County courts that Nex's parent Sue Benedict wanted to report the assault and asked police to talk with school administrators about what had happened. Sue Benedict did not ask officers to pursue charges against the other students at that time, Hamrick wrote.

The Owasso police said no report of the fight was made to their department before the notification at the hospital, and a school resource officer took a report at the hospital.

The Owasso Police Department has released bodycam footage of a school resource officer's interview with Nex Benedict. The interview took place at an Owasso hospital about two hours after the Feb. 7 fight. Nex was later discharged from the hospital.

Nex was later discharged from the hospital.

But shortly before 3 p.m. the next day, Benedict called 911 to report Nex was experiencing medical issues, including shallow breathing. Sue Benedict told the 911 operator about the altercation at school and said Nex had hit their head on the bathroom floor, Hamrick wrote.

Emergency medical crews performed CPR on Nex and drove them to a Tulsa hospital, where they were pronounced dead around 3:30 p.m.

More: Family, friends of Nex Benedict remember Owasso teen: 'We are incredibly sad'

What's happened in the Owasso police investigation so far?

Lt. Nick Boatman, a spokesman for Owasso Police, said police are “conducting a very active and thorough investigation” and are anticipating autopsy and toxicology results. Boatman said he cannot comment on any possible charges related to the case until officers receive more information from medical examiners.

“We do not want to make any rash conclusions about any part of the investigation or the cause of death,” he said in an email. “Unfortunately, it’s just going to take time.”

In the search warrant filed in Tulsa courts by Owasso police, Hamrick said police were looking for traces of blood, as well as searching school records, including photographs, documents and attendance data.

In a document indicating what officers had collected, Hamrick said police gathered 137 photos and collected two swabs from stains in a bathroom. They also obtained school records, she wrote.

"Owasso police officers suspect foul play involved and need to initiate an in-depth investigation into the death," Hamrick wrote.

Owasso police said they are spending several days interviewing students and teachers, then will turn over their findings to the Tulsa County district attorney’s office.

Officers also may bring in other agencies, such as the FBI, if they determine a major crime occurred, said Lt. Nick Boatman, a spokesman for Owasso Police.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office based in Tulsa said she could not confirm nor deny whether the office was involved in the case.

Boatman said investigators are still waiting for initial autopsy results before deciding whether to recommend charges be filed in the case. The state medical examiner’s office said its full investigation into the student’s death could take four to six months.

More: Police investigating death of Owasso student who died the day after school bathroom beating

Nex's family plans to conduct an independent investigation, relatives confirmed in their statement issued Feb. 21. They also urged officials to "hold those responsible to account and to ensure it never happens again."

What has the Owasso Public School District said?

District officials had been tight-lipped about what happened. But in a statement issued Tuesday, spokesman Jordan Korphage pushed back against “statements that call into question the district’s commitment to student safety and security.”

Korphage said a fight happened in a school bathroom on the afternoon of Feb. 7. He said the students were in the bathroom for less than two minutes before other students and a school employee broke up the fight.

He said a nurse checked on all students and recommended one teen seek further medical attention “out of the abundance of caution.” Korphage disputed claims that the teen who later died was unable to walk immediately after the fight.

“All students involved in the altercation walked under their own power to the assistant principal’s office and nurse’s office,” he said.

He declined to say how many students were involved. He also said he could not say whether any students were disciplined afterward, citing privacy laws.

What are people saying about Nex Benedict on TikTok, social media

Word of the student's death spread across social media platforms like TikTok the weekend after Nex's funeral was held.

Many platforms have cited 2 News in Tulsa, which reported that the teen and a classmate were beaten in a school bathroom by three older students. The television station spoke with a woman who said her daughter was the other student injured in the fight.

The woman, who was not named in the news report, claimed school officials did not seek emergency medical care for the student who later died.

Many on social media cite right-wing rhetoric shared by Oklahoma politicians as a cause for vitriol toward nonbinary individuals.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Nex Benedict: What we know in death of Oklahoma teen