Police, district counter 'misinformation' after teen found dead on Ann Arbor school grounds

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A day after a missing 15-year-old Ann Arbor Pioneer High School student was found dead on the campus grounds, law enforcement and district officials issued statements about the actions taken in the case amid concern from some in the community.

“We know there’s a lot of unanswered questions, as well as a lot of misinformation about the death of Adriana Davidson being shared on social media,” said the Ann Arbor Police Department, which is handling the investigation, in a statement Tuesday.

Davidson last communicated with her family around 9 a.m. Friday while on her way to school, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office has said.

Adriana Davidson

Friends said they last saw the Scio Township resident, also known as Addy, around 11 a.m. that day outside Pioneer High. Relatives reported her missing early the next morning.

Officials found the teen's body near the athletic fields at the school around 1 p.m. Monday. There were no initial signs of foul play, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“The family and the community deserve answers, and we will be transparent about what happened as our investigation unfolds,” Ann Arbor police said Tuesday. “While Adriana’s death is tragic -- right now, we are not currently searching for anyone else who may be involved in her death, and there is NO threat to the community. After reviewing security video from the school, we believe Adriana was alone when she died.”

The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner has conducted an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death, according to the release. Results were not immediately released.

“We will be releasing more information in the coming days and weeks,” police said. “We know the Ann Arbor community is grieving right now and our thoughts are with Adriana’s family.”

The Sheriff’s Office echoed the sentiments Tuesday and said it would “not release detailed investigative actions or any additional facts regarding the search for (Adriana) until the investigation is complete.”

The office added: “We know that in the absence of facts, myths can emerge and with such a tragic situation those myths can begin to cause considerable harm. Parents become fearful to send their students to school based on unverified rumors, family members continue to be victimized from the constant barrage of inaccurate assumptions, and the integrity of an investigation can be threatened.

"We understand the need to make sense of such a senseless tragedy and the need for factual information to be delivered in a timely and accurate manner. However, we have a responsibility to protect the privacy of Adriana and her family, and we are committed to maintaining the integrity of the investigation.”

A Change.org petition launched after her death criticizes authorities and Ann Arbor Public Schools in the search for the girl and for a lack of mental health resources and seeks changes.

It also noted Adriana was the second Pioneer student to die in the last two years during school hours, citing Alex Walker dying after jumping from a train trestle into the Huron River in May.

"Students are still able to freely roam the school and leave whenever they would like without reason," the petition stated. "If Pioneer High School administration had recognized this issue after the death of Alex, Addy's death could've also been prevented."

The "Justice for Addy" petition had gained more than 6,000 signatures through Tuesday night.

In a statement Tuesday, Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Kerr Swift said Pioneer administrators and district officials immediately started working with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office as soon as Adriana was reported missing then "assisted throughout the weekend, taking steps in support of law enforcement’s investigation. This work included working through numerous steps and processes in support of the law enforcement investigation and much of this work, out of respect for the privacy of this family, is not public."

The district is continuing to support the probe, Swift said.

"We all are mourning the loss of Addy and know this pain sometimes leads to the spreading of misinformation and rumors that are not based in fact. We should not lose focus on the tragic loss of young Addy," she said. "This is an important time for our AAPS community to come together, to focus on the support of Addy’s family and to ensure the ongoing support of all our Pioneer students, staff, and our Ann Arbor community."

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe campaign was launched Tuesday to help pay for a funeral and other expenses.

"The news of Addy's disappearance and passing continues to baffle and shock those who knew and loved her and the entire nation," the page said.

More than $10,000 has been raised through the account.