Three Lee Co. girls die in three months, rumors rampant

OPELIKA, AL (WSFA) - Lee County Coroner Bill Harris is seeking to assure the community that everything possible is being done to find answers in the recent deaths of three "beautiful young girls" that have happened in the last three months.

Harris says rumors in Lee County are running rampant.

"I can assure everyone that we are not taking these cases lightly," Harris said, "We are searching for answers and as soon as we have them, the public will be informed."

Though the girls' cases are similar in nature, Harris says the only thing that is common at this point is the fact that they lived in the same town and all are female. The girls have not been identified.

The first two girls' autopsies indicated myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by a variety of infections, viruses or other diseases. Harris says the third case is still pending further tests.

The Center for Disease Control now has tissue samples from each case for further study. The coroner's office is also in contact with numerous state health agencies as well as a nationwide data base of investigators.

Harris says results will not come overnight, and at this time there is no indication that anything contagious or infectious is being spread through the community.

"Based on medical research, myocarditis is very rare in children and according to Alabama Dept. of Public Health statistics; there have been no deaths in Lee County in the years 2004 through 2006 with myocarditis being the primary cause of death in any age," Harris said.

"We are not hiding or trying to avoid releasing any information concerning these deaths. However, the families of these girls will be informed first and foremost as we get answers and the public will be informed accordingly and timely as we receive information."

WSFA 12 News will continue to follow this story.