Leslie Jordan’s cause of death ‘deferred’ by L.A. coroner pending more investigation
L.A. coroner Marilyn Aranda has deferred for another year her decision on whether to change the cause of Leslie Jordan’s death from “drowned accident” to homicide.
Jordan was 22 when she was discovered dead on July 2, 1997, in a swimming hole near Griffith Park in northeast Los Angeles. But on Tuesday, the coroner said she had given the case to the chief deputy coroner, Dr. David Gonsoulin.
The deputy coroner has been conducting what a representative of the coroner’s office calls a thorough investigation.
“Dr. Gonsoulin will continue the investigation and provide the report to the assistant chief deputy coroner,” the assistant chief deputy coroner’s office said in a statement about the coroner’s findings. Her name and phone number are available by calling (323) 794-2735.
Jordan’s family has been seeking autopsy results and a determination last September whether she died of drowning or being struck by an object.
In 2001, Gonsoulin said he found in the medical examiner’s report “a significant amount of physical evidence” that indicated Jordan may have been hit with a club in a struggle or dragged underwater. He wrote in a report that he recommended a change in the cause of death. It could have been caused by a fight.
“I do not recall seeing anything to indicate in my cursory and careful review that Leslie Jordan may have been struck by a club or struck by an object,” Gonsoulin wrote.
Gonsoulin said police reports suggest Jordan was fighting when she was struck by a rock. He said he cannot say, however, whether the rock was thrown by Jordan or someone else.
L.A. County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Salazar previously told The Times that Gonsoulin might not be willing to change the cause of death. He said Gonsoulin has “a history of deferring to the opinions of medical examiners and coroners.”
While the coroner’s office declined comment on that, Aranda noted in her death certificate that she was in “an altercation leading up to her death.”
Aranda noted that the investigation is still ongoing.
“As such, it is now with the deputy coroner, who is fully vested with full authority to complete and finalize the investigation and issue a written report,” the coroner’s office said.