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Autopsy performed on top aide to St. Louis County executive who died unexpectedly at 37

Cora Faith Walker was pronounced dead at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital at 9:58 a.m. Friday
Credit: St. Louis County
Cora Faith Walker, Chief Policy Officer for St. Louis County, died Friday.

Editor's note: This story was updated on March 16 with additional information.

ST. LOUIS — The I-Team is learning more about the final hours of Cora Faith Walker, a former state representative and top aide to St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, whose recent sudden and unexpected death prompted an outpouring of support from local, state and national politicians.

Fire and EMS crews were called to the Live! By Lowe’s hotel in the 700 block of Clark Avenue in St. Louis at 8:58 a.m. Friday.  It's unclear what the nature of the call was.

Capt. Leon Whitener, a St. Louis Fire Department spokesman, told the I-Team a public records request must be filed to get any information about the call to the hotel including the time, date and place of it.

But the I-Team has confirmed that someone at the hotel called 911 to report Walker may have suffered a cardiac arrest. 

Walker, 37, was pronounced dead at 9:58 a.m. at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.

RELATED: Cora Faith Walker, aide to Sam Page and former state representative, dies

St. Louis Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Graham conducted an autopsy Monday.

“There were no physical injuries or signs of trauma to the body,” he said.

Graham said he would not be able to determine the cause of Walker's death until toxicology results come back in about a month.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones' office wrote in a statement that Walker "was a fixture in the St. Louis region, a powerful advocate for her community and a fiercely loyal friend to all who knew and loved her, especially to Mayor Jones."

Walker posted on Twitter Thursday morning wishing Jones a happy birthday, including a video compilation of Walker and Jones in photos and videos together.

Later that night, Walker had dinner with Jones at NEO on Locust, city spokesman Nick Dunne said. Dunne added that Jones did not accompany Walker to the hotel.

The I-Team discovered a photo of Jones alongside Montgomery, Alabama, Mayor Steven Reed on Reed's Twitter feed, posted at 11:44 p.m. Thursday inside the restaurant at the hotel, which read "happy birthday sista mayor!"

Dunne then issued a clarification to his original statement to 5 On You Side, saying Jones did not stay at the hotel that night, but did go to the hotel's restaurant. Dunne apologized if he misunderstood the question.

He added Jones did not return to the hotel at any point on Friday, the day EMS was called to assist Walker.

At a public safety meeting Monday, Dan Isom said police look into the circumstances of any death. He said police did not respond initially because of how the call came in.

"EMS, paramedics responded, tried to stabilize her and then brought her to the hospital," Isom said.

Walker was a former Missouri representative from Ferguson who then served as St. Louis County Executive Sam Page’s policy chief.

There was an outpouring of support for Walker, including a message from the Missouri Democratic Party, which wrote that it was "devastated to learn of Cora Faith Walker’s passing."

"She was a perfect example of a dedicated public servant who deeply cared for the St. Louis community," it said. "We’ve lost someone very special and too soon."

A family spokeswoman said that a public memorial service would be held Friday at 11 a.m. at Friendly Temple Church at 5515 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in St. Louis.

In a statement, Walker's family expressed its "heartfelt gratitude for the outpouring of condolences" since Friday.

“Cora dedicated her life’s work to public service, social justice, women’s reproductive rights and health equity access. She was an ardent advocate for women, children and the underserved throughout Ferguson, the state of Missouri and the world.

"Cora, always strident and steadfast in her devotion to meet the most pressing needs of her community, achieved so much because she put service to others before self. 

“While we feel the loss of Cora deeply, we are comforted in knowing that Cora’s community service empowers and impacts the lives of so many families. We know her work will continue through the service of others."

In lieu of flowers, Walker's family asked for donations to charities and organizations that she supported, including Nurses for Newborns, Jamaa Birth Village, Pro-Choice Missouri and the Veterans Community Project-St. Louis.

Walker was elected in 2016 to represent Missouri's 74th District. In 2019, she resigned to take the job with Page's administration. Her county biography said she had overseen government relations, regulatory affairs and public policy operations, the St. Louis Business Journal reported.

Among other things, Walker served on a task force studying women's participation and advancement in the workforce. On behalf of Page, she had also commented on efforts to bring Afghan refugees to St. Louis. She also had worked on Medicaid expansion and health reform, the county biography said.

In a statement, Page wrote that he was "deeply saddened" by Walker's passing.

"Cora walked into my office every day with a hundred ideas and the determination to do them. She was a passionate public servant who advocated for women, newborns, survivors of sexual violence, reproductive rights, seniors and frontline health care workers.

"She will be greatly missed by her St. Louis County government colleagues and me. We offer our condolences to her husband, Tim and her parents."

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