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Teen found dead after prom party

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By Robin Bass

A nineteen-year-old man was found dead in his vehicle Sunday morning after allegedly attending a prom party in southern Spencer County.

Police said that Donald “Donnie” C. DeJesus, Jr. had attended a party Saturday night at 449 Inghram Lane. He was discovered sometime after 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning lying in the back seat floorboard of an extended cab truck. Police said that a woman described as the homeowner called 9-1-1 to report that the teen was unresponsive.

Kentucky State Police arrived first on the scene at 10 a.m. After De Jesus was examined by EMS, the coroner was notified.

A preliminary report by Spencer County Coroner Danny Hilbert indicated that DeJesus had a small bump on his head, and scratches on his nose and elbow. Hilbert said witnesses at the scene reported that DeJesus had been drinking and wrestling with friends at the party.

“They also said he told them he had been in a fight before coming to the party,” said Hilbert.

The coroner said the teen showed no signs of blunt force trauma and the scratches appeared to be healing – indicating that they were the result of an earlier incident.

Hilbert said it is too soon  to suspect alcohol poisoning or an accidental overdose. A toxicology report is expected to be completed in the next several weeks.

Monday morning, a state medical examiner conducted an autopsy in Louisville, but Hilbert said results from that report could take as long as a month.

As news spread through Spencer County High School Monday, school officials provided counselors for grieving students. About a dozen students took advantage of the service. Several students called their parents and left early.

“Donald was a very pleasant young man, very respectful,” said Principal Tracy Bale. “He was a very popular student.”

Bale described De Jesus as an artistic student that excelled in his advanced art classes at the high school.

Like most teenagers, DeJesus experienced bumps in the road and one of those stumbles resulted in being transferred to the district’s alternative school. He spent the 2006-2007 school year at Hillview Academy, then transferred back to the high school. According to district records, DeJesus withdrew himself from school last October shortly after turning 19.

Hillview Principal Bob Hafendorfer said what he remembers about De Jesus is that he always had a smile on his face.

“Donnie was a free-spirit and easy going. He just wanted to enjoy life,” said Hafendorfer.

Hafendorfer said in recent months he had encouraged De Jesus to return to Hillview and work toward his diploma.

During Monday, Hafendorfer said he provided counseling to two students at Hillview who were upset about DeJesus’ death.

DeJesus’ complete obituary can be seen under the Obituary section on spencermagnet.com.