A teen was found dead on a highway after a four-day party. His autopsy now raises more questions

‘A drawing in black ink of a stick-figure person,’ was found etched on Presgrove’s right thigh, the report details

Wednesday 15 May 2024 00:04
Noah Presgrove, a teen from Oklahoma who was found dead on the side of a highway in 2023, in picture shared by his sister Madison Rawlings
Noah Presgrove, a teen from Oklahoma who was found dead on the side of a highway in 2023, in picture shared by his sister Madison Rawlings (Family handout)

A mystery surrounding the mysterious death of an Oklahoma teen whose body was found nearly nude on the side of a highway has gained a new wrinkle.

The full autopsy report detailing the death of 19-year-old Noah Presgrove has been released and provides some insight into the teen's final hours.

Presgrove was found dead on 4 September 2023, after he had been drinking and partying for four days with his friends.

What exactly killed the teen was not immediately apparent to investigators, and the conditions of his discovery — his lack of clothes, and his presence at the seemingly remote location near the highway — only added to the confusion surrounding his death.

Now, a medical examiner's report has shed some light on the injuries Presgrove sustained on the day he died. But has it gotten investigators any closer to understanding how he ended up dead?

Noah Presgrove, a teen from Oklahoma who was found dead on the side of a highway in 2023, in picture shared by his sister Madison Rawlings (Family handout)

Autopsy report details injuries sustained

The medical examiner's report said that Noah died from "multiple blunt force injuries" to his head, neck, torso, and extremities, PEOPLE reports.

A two-page list of injuries he sustained included "swelling of the brain," multiple brain lacerations, "basal skull fractures splitting the middle base of the skull in two," and multiple fractured ribs. A molar broke in half, and he suffered a "laceration on the left surface of the tongue" along with four cervical neck fractures.

“At this time, what transpired on how the body was found on the road having multiple blunt force injuries is unknown,” medical examiner Leonardo Roquero wrote in the report.

He listed Presgrove's death as "undetermined."

In addition to the mismatched shoes Presgrove was found wearing when he was found — he reportedly couldn't find one of his shoes before he left and just took another that fit — the report noted a few other items found near his body.

“Three pieces of a white metal chain” as well as a "part of a tooth" — presumably the molar that split apart — as well as a pair of white printed shorts were found with Presgrove's body. A clump of hair was also found on the highway, and another was found on his rear end "without blood or tissue" attached to the follicles.

“A drawing in black ink of a stick-figure person,” was scribbled on his right thigh, the report said.

In addition to the autopsy report, a toxicology report was performed for amphetamine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, opiates, PCP, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines.

None of the drugs were detected in Presgrove's system, though alcohol was.

Angelica Harper, the forensic toxicologist who conducted the analysis, said in her report that the tests she ran were not designed to detect oxycodone, methadone, or clonazepam.

Dailen Presgrove, Noah's brother, told PEOPLE that while the report "answers some questions," it also "raises many more."

Noah Presgrove, 19, vanished from a birthday party over the 2023 Labor Day weekend. His body was found about a mile away. He had a fractured skull, broken ribs, he was naked except for shoes and his teeth were scattered, his family say (Family handout)

Presgrove's death came after fight with ‘girlfriend’

Presgrove had recently graduated and reportedly planned to join the military after taking a summer off. On the day he died, Presgrove had been attending a four-day 22nd birthday party in Terral, Oklahoma, approximately two hours northeast of Dallas, Texas near the Oklahoma-Texas border. A party attendee told police that Presgrove wanted to go for a walk, but could not find one of his shoes, so he took another.

A truck driver eventually found Presgrove's body along the southbound lane of US-81 just before 6am on 4 September, 2023.

A preliminary medical examiner's report provided some details into what Presgrove was doing in the hours before his death. It notes that he had been drinking at the house party and had also rolled an ATV he was driving with his friends earlier that day.

The report also revealed that Presgrove reportedly returned to the house after the ATV incident and got into a fight with his girlfriend. He then left on 3 September, which was the last time anyone at the party saw him.

The detail regarding the girlfriend confused Presgrove's sister, Madison Rawlings, who told Fox News Digital she was unaware of the girl's existence.

“I’m not sure who the girl he is ‘supposedly’ arguing with,” Ms Rawlings told the outlet. “That is a question I reached out about with the medical examiner.”

The report also noted that no vehicle debris was found at the site, which would have likely occurred if Presgrove had been hit by a vehicle.

“There were no vehicle parts or debris observed on the scene. At this time, what transpired on how the body was found on the road having multiple blunt force injuries is unknown,” the report says. “Therefore, the manner of death is deemed undetermined.”

Family of Oklahoma teen found naked and dead speak out

Death not being investigated as murder

Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Presgrove's death was not being investigated as a murder, KSWO reports.

Immediately after his discovery, the OHP described his death as “suspicious”, but it's unclear if the agency ever seriously considered murder as a possible scenario.

Dailen previously told the broadcaster that he believed foul play was involved.

“He was in the fetal position. And his body was covered up,” Dailen told the outlet. “You can see blood seeping through the covering. … As I’m looking at it, it just seems weird. The placement of the body. The tooth, the shorts. It doesn’t look like a hit-and-run.”

He said the family feels as though they're "still at square one" in understanding what happened to Presgrove.

“We desperately need more cooperation from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and we’re looking to get an outsider experienced in these situations,” he said.

His family started a GoFundMe to raise money for a private investigator to take on Presgrove's case.

"Between the many of us who have been eagerly working the case over the last 8 months we have tremendous hours put into the case already," a blurb on the GoFundMe reads. "We are seeking new eyes on the case and preferably someone with law enforcement background and experience in this genre."

Noah Presgrove had graduated high school just a few months before his death in rural Oklahoma (KFOR/News 4 Oklahoma)

The GoFundMe has raised more than $10,000, with an $8,000 target goal.

Dailen told PEOPLE that as time has passed, he has found it harder to determine the facts behind his brother's death, noting that "stories are changing" and that "other times it feels that [people involved in the investigation] are reading off of a script."

"It's hard to trust anyone," he said.

Presgrove's cousin, said even if the teen's death was an accident, whoever was involved should come forward.

“Even if it was an accident, it doesn’t matter, come clean,” Avery Poucher told KSWO. “It hurts not to know. It’ll hurt knowing, but it hurts more not to know and wondering, and just thinking every night what happened.”

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