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Preliminary toxicology report following sudden death of Cora Faith Walker negative for drugs

The death of the former Missouri state representative shocked St. Louis County and St. Louis City.

ST. LOUIS — A preliminary toxicology report on Cora Faith Walker, St. Louis mayor's close friend and a high-level administrator in the St. Louis County Executive's Office, has come back negative for drugs, multiple sources have told the I-Team.

Walker, 37, died March 11 after emergency responders were called to the Live! by Loews hotel in Ballpark Village in the City of St. Louis. She collapsed outside of a hotel room on the third floor the morning after she attended a birthday party for Mayor Tishaura Jones.  

The sudden death of the former Missouri state representative caused shock and raised questions in St. Louis County and St. Louis city, with at least one county councilman calling for an outside investigation.

It's unclear what exactly a preliminary toxicology report rules out, and if any substances remain in question.

Director of Public Safety for the City of St. Louis Dan Isom gave a public safety news conference at 11 a.m. Monday, saying Walker's final cause of death remains undetermined and that a "Good Samaritan" at the hotel found her and tried to give her first aid after she collapsed.

Isom said the police department does not believe there was any foul play or wrongdoing involved in Walker's death. 

"Unfortunately, many have jumped to conclusions based on rumors, innuendo and allegations with no facts to support their reporting," Isom said. "It's a sad commentary for individuals who manufacture controversy out of tragedy."

Isom also said there is no local police or federal investigation underway into Walker's death, but confirmed a St. Louis police officer who is also a member of the department's DEA task force had been told of the preliminary toxicology results by the Medical Examiner's Office and has been looking into the facts surrounding Walker's death.

A spokeswoman for the DEA issued a statement to the I-Team, saying only: "We do not discuss investigations including whether or not an investigation has been opened."

Much of the controversy surrounds how slow public information about her death has come to light, and how the fire department has required reporters file sunshine requests for basic information about the incident. 

Timeline

Here is what the I-Team has learned about the timeline leading up to Walker's final moments through public records requests, sources familiar with the investigation and Isom's comments: 

9:44 a.m. March 10: Walker posted on Twitter wishing Jones a happy birthday, including a video compilation of Walker and Jones in photos and videos together.

12 a.m. March 11: Hotel video surveillance showed Walker entering another person's hotel room. Isom said that person has cooperated in the investigation into Walker's death, but he said he would not identify that person for "privacy reasons." 

7 a.m. March 11: Another person leaves the hotel room where Walker had been last seen. 

7:53 a.m. March 11: Walker liked a tweet showing a charcuterie board.

Shortly before 9 a.m. March 11: Walker can be seen on video surveillance footage walking out of the room and collapsing in the hallway. Isom said a "Good Samaritan" tried to revive Walker and called 911. 

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.

The I-Team filed that request, only to be told two days later by the city counselor's office that the request needed to be filed with the fire department's Investigations Division, not the EMS Division. 

The request has been refiled and has not yet been fulfilled.

Multiple sources have confirmed the 911 caller told dispatchers she believed it was a possible cardiac arrest.

8:58 a.m. March 11: EMS workers were dispatched to the hotel. 

9:13 a.m. March 11: An ambulance arrived at the scene.

9:39 a.m. March 11: Ambulance leaves with Walker toward SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital 

9:46 a.m. March 11: Ambulance arrived at the hospital with Walker.

9:58 a.m. March 11: Walker was pronounced dead.

11:30 a.m. March 11: The St. Louis Medical Examiner's Office picked up Walker's body from the hospital.

6:14 p.m. March 11: The St. Louis Medical Examiner's Office called the police department to report a sudden death at the hotel, according to police spokesman Sgt. Charles Wall. This call included the address of the hotel.

"In this case an unidentified female subject was transferred to an area hospital where she later died," he wrote. "The ME’s office contacts our agency in these instances to positively identify unknown individuals through fingerprint identification. 

"Our agency generally, and in this instance specifically, does nothing further unless the ME’s findings determine the manner of death to be something other than natural causes."

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

March 14: St. Louis Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Graham conducted an autopsy.

“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 final toxicology results come back in about a month.

Full toxicology reports often take weeks to complete. That report could confirm the findings of an initial report.

A vice president from Live! by Loews directed all inquiries about the death to the police, saying it is a "law enforcement matter."

Wall said, "There is no police investigation at this time into the death of Cora Faith Walker."

Call for outside investigation

Scrutiny on the incident continued when St. Louis County councilman Tim Fitch called for the Missouri State Highway Patrol to investigate Walker's death.

Fitch said Isom's press conference reinforced his call for an outside investigation. Fitch took issue with Isom's comments about the nature of the DEA Task Force Officer's investigation into Walker's death.

Fitch, a former St. Louis County Police Chief, said task force officers carry DEA credentials and are deputized by the DEA.  

"He tried to say it's a city detective who is assigned to the task force, but the DEA has nothing to do with the investigation," said Fitch, former St. Louis County police chief. "Task force officers are assigned to investigate federal crimes for the agency they are assigned to.

"If it had nothing to do with the DEA, why didn't the city police department just assign a non-task force detective to do the investigation? You don't take a DEA task force officer say, 'We're going to have you go investigate this arson,' that's now how task force officers work."

Fitch said he believes the city police department is capable of investigating Walker's death, but shouldn't because of the mayor's close relationship with Walker.

Walker and Jones were celebrating Jones' birthday at NEO on Locust March 10. The celebration then continued at the Live! by Loews hotel restaurant, Jones' office confirmed.

Jones' press secretary said Jones did not spend the night at the hotel and did not return to the hotel the next morning. 

Isom said Jones was on a phone call with her cabinet at about 9 a.m. March 11 -- about the same time Walker was collapsing at the hotel.  

Jones posted tributes to Walker on Twitter, saying, "Today our region and the world lost a giant. It’s not often in life that we find friends that become members of our family."

Jones retweeted tributes to Walker in the days following her death along with criticism of news media working to learn the circumstances of Walker's death.

Congresswoman Cori Bush honored Walker with a tribute for Women's History Month.

Bush posted a tweet Monday sharing a photo of her holding a large photo of Walker. The U.S. Capitol is in the background.

Bush spoke about Walker on the floor of Congress on March 18, the day Walker was laid to rest.

Walker was elected to the Missouri House in 2016 to represent the 74th District. In 2019, she resigned to take the job with St. Louis County Executive Page's administration.

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