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Teen who died had asked neighbors for food, clothes


KIM NORVELL   | knorvell@dmreg.com

A 16-year-old West Des Moines girl who died last week after suffering cardiac arrest had asked neighbors for help with food and clothing in the past, according to one neighbor.

Natalie Jasmine Finn died Oct. 24 inside her family's one-story, brick home near the intersection of 15th Street and Mountain Avenue in West Des Monies.

Police are investigating to determine whether the death is suspicious, West Des Moines Sgt. Anthony Giampolo said. They served a search warrant at the home Wednesday afternoon.

Tiana Curtis, who lives next door, said Finn had asked people who live on the block several times for food, money and clothes. She said the children staying in the home were an ongoing "neighborhood-wide concern."

"We never saw (the kids) play outside or invite friends over," she said.

No charges have been filed in the girl's death and no one had been taken into custody as of Thursday. Giampolo said the Polk County Attorney's Office is involved in the investigation. The Iowa Department of Human Services is also involved, spokeswoman Amy McCoy said.

Curtis said neighbors had called DHS before Finn's death about concerns for the children. McCoy would not confirm whether the department had been involved prior to this investigation.

"We all tried to keep an eye out to look for more signs of trouble, but it was a very private household," Curtis said.

She said police removed laptops and other electronics from the home Wednesday while conducting the search warrant.

Curtis said she believed three other children were living in the home. Police were unable to confirm how many children live there or whether any children had been removed from the home during the investigation.

A knock at the door Wednesday by a Register reporter went unanswered.

"Our neighborhood is extremely concerned for the outcome of this investigation," Curtis said. "Many of us are fearful to put our names or faces on reports of what we've seen and heard, but somebody has to step forward ..."

An autopsy has been conducted by the Polk County Medical Examiner and an official cause of death will be released once toxicology results are final.

Elaine Watkins-Miller, spokeswoman for West Des Moines Community Schools, said Finn was previously a student at Walnut Creek Campus, the district's alternative high school, but she was not enrolled there or anywhere else in the district this year.

2016 Nov 3