Medical examiner releases Nex Benedict’s full autopsy

Nex Benedict.
Nex Benedict.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner on March 27 released the remainder of Nex Benedict’s autopsy report, which unveiled more details about the late teen’s death on Feb. 8.

Benedict, who officials say died by suicide, left notes “suggestive of self-harm” and died due to “diphenhydramine and fluoxetine combined toxicity,” according to the full autopsy report, which was provided to Gay City News. Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine used in Benadryl, while fluoxetine is in Prozac and is commonly prescribed for depression.

Benedict’s family found the notes in the teen’s room and turned them over to police, according to the medical examiner’s report, which added to an abbreviated version of the report that was initially released in recent weeks.

An activist at a vigal for Nex Benedict at the Stonewall Inn in February.
An activist at a vigil for Nex Benedict at the Stonewall Inn in February.Donna Aceto

Benedict, a 16-year-old teen of Choctaw heritage who identified as transmasculine and non-binary, died one day after suffering injuries during an altercation with students on Feb. 7 at Owasso High School. In an interview with police, Benedict recalled hearing students voicing statements like “why do they laugh like that,” prompting the teen to confront them. Those students, Benedict said, also previously made fun of them for the way they dressed.

“They grabbed onto my hair; I grabbed onto them,” Benedict said. “I threw one of them into a paper towel dispenser. Then they got my legs out from under me, got me on the ground, and started beating the shit out of me. And then my friends tried to jump in and help, and I’m not sure, I blacked out.”

A lingering question in recent weeks has been whether Benedict’s death was related to the fight at school, especially after family members said the teen complained about a headache prior to going to sleep that night. The report said Benedict had abrasions, contusions, and lacerations and was reported to have had “headaches and seizure-like activity before being found unresponsive,” but “no lethal trauma” was found.

Local and national LGBTQ groups viewed the autopsy with skepticism. Nicole McAfree, the executive director of a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group called Freedom Oklahoma, described the medical examiner as “unaccredited since 2009” and criticized the “continued lack of respect for the tribal law enforcement who should’ve been involved in a case that involves the death of an Indigenous person on reservation land.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, said the report “cannot be seen as a conclusion of the investigation” and demanded that Oklahoma’s leaders provide answers about the inadequate response to the bathroom altercation as well as the anti-trans legislation in the state.

“GLAAD continues to call for an independent investigation to resolve the systemic failures that led to Nex’s death,” Ellis said. “Our hearts remain with Nex’s family, with Oklahoma’s incredible 2STGNC+ and equality advocates, and all LGBTQ youth who deserve to grow up in peace and safety.”

Benedict’s death sparked widespread demonstrations around the nation, including in New York, where community members gathered at the Stonewall Inn in late February to denounce the teen’s death and demand justice.