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She had black eyes and bruises, but authorities don't know what killed 22-year-old Jordan Henry

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Posted at 2:20 PM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 14:37:30-04

INDIANAPOLIS — On the day Jordan Henry died, bruises on the young woman’s face led Indianapolis police to believe that she had been beaten to death by her boyfriend.

Detectives saw evidence of a struggle in that Castleton-area apartment on April 29, according to a preliminary probable cause affidavit. Police found blood in the bathroom, bedroom, on pillows and on a child-sized beanbag chair.

Henry, 22, “had two black eyes, a bloody nose, blood in her mouth, blood dried on her lips and extensive bruising to the right side of her face.” Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers arrested Henry’s boyfriend on an initial charge of murder.

Case solved, or so it seemed.

The autopsy changed everything.

On April 30 according to the affidavit, the doctor determined “that none of the decedent’s injuries appeared to cause her death.”

The boyfriend spent six days in Marion County Jail and was released on May 5, records show. He didn’t have to post bond. Marion County prosecutors did not file charges.

WRTV is not identifying the man because he has not been charged with a crime.

“With the coroner saying undetermined cause of death, I don’t know if they’re going to have enough to charge him,” said Jack Crawford, an Indianapolis attorney and former Lake County prosecutor who reviewed the affidavit at WRTV’s request.

“It could be a suicide; it could be accidental, or it could be a murder.”

Jordan Henry apartment.jpg
Officers found Jordan Henry's body in this north side apartment building on April 29.

Whatever caused Jordan Henry’s death remains a mystery.

Michael Leffler, a spokesman for Prosecutor Ryan Mears, said authorities are still investigating and declined further comment.

"Investigators are still working diligently on this case," said Lt. Shane Foley, an IMPD spokesman. "There’s nothing further to release at this time."

Here’s what happened on the day Henry died, according to the affidavit.

Henry’s boyfriend called 911 shortly before 3:30 p.m. on April 29 and told the operator that Henry was dead in the apartment near East 86th Street and Allisonville Road. He gave his first name and phone number before hanging up.

Sgt. Christopher Cavanaugh called the man and left a voicemail. A lawyer returned Cavanaugh’s call saying she’d been hired by the boyfriend.

The lawyer told Cavanaugh the couple’s child was with grandparents, “but wouldn’t say any further,” Detective Matthew PanKonie wrote in the affidavit.

Officers got a key from the apartment manager. They found Henry in a back bedroom. Blankets covered most of her body, including her badly bruised face.

Henry’s mother told officers the boyfriend had been physically and verbally abusive. Henry frequently had black eyes, her mother told police. Her mother told officers that Henry called her on New Year’s Eve, told her about the abuse, and asked to be picked up.

The Department of Child Services told officers the couple’s daughter was with Henry’s boyfriend at his parents’ home in Carmel.

Police took him into custody, noting that he had bruises, reddened knuckles, and scratches on his chest, arms, legs, and back.

At the autopsy, Dr. Ian Paul found Henry had suffered bruises, scratches, cracked ribs that had been healing and an injury inside her mouth. None of the injuries caused her death, Paul determined.

The doctor also noted that Henry's nail beds were dark blue, a sign that her blood was not getting enough oxygen. Paul said that was a sign her death might have been a suicide by ingesting a high level of nitrates, which is a medication typically used to treat heart problems.

Paul said that Henry's death might have been accidental suffocation, especially if she was under the influence of alcohol or something else.

The doctor could not determine what caused Henry’s death, according to the affidavit. The Marion County coroner’s office told WRTV her cause of death remains pending.

Henry's boyfriend remains free while the case is under investigation. WRTV's attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful.

“The case screams out for more facts, but the only person who knows the story is (Henry’s boyfriend),” Crawford said. “And he’s lawyered up, as the cops like to say.”

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at victor.ryckaert@wrtv.com or on Twitter: @vicryc.