The family of a Carbondale woman found dead in 2012 under questionable circumstances notched a victory this week in its quest to obtain Illinois State Police records regarding that agency’s investigation.
In a binding opinion issued Wednesday, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office ruled that the state police improperly withheld post-mortem photographs taken of 21-year-old Molly Young following a Freedom of Information Act request from Young’s father, Larry Young.
Young first requested the photographs in August 2015 as part of a larger records request, but the state police withheld the photographs in their entirety. Young asked for a review from the Attorney General’s Office in October.
In its decision this week, the Attorney General’s Office said that
Larry Young’s role as executor of his daughter’s estate gave him a clear claim to the photographs.
“Clearly, an individual may consent to the disclosure of information in which he or she has a personal privacy interest,” the decision reads. “ISP has not articulated a legal rationale that justifies withholding personal information concerning Ms. Young from her father, including her death-scene and autopsy photographs.”
Young was found dead from a bullet wound to the head in March 2012 in the Carbondale apartment of Richie Minton, her on-and-off boyfriend and at the time a dispatcher at the Carbondale Police Department. While text messages sent from Young’s phone that night indicated possibly suicidal intentions, other details in the case have given rise to a host of other questions and theories.
Young’s family has pointed to, among other things, the lack of fingerprints on the gun and the downward trajectory of the bullet, which the right-handed Young likely would have had to fire with her left hand.
Minton, who drank heavily earlier in the evening, summoned Young to his apartment and later said he must have slept through the gunshot from his weapon that ended Young’s life in his bedroom.
Minton reported the death as an overdose in a 911 call first initiated by his roommate several hours later, telling first responders that he only found the gunshot wound after attempting to perform CPR on Young. When investigators discovered a pair of fresh scratches on his back that morning, he told them he must have sustained them while administering CPR.
Minton has agreed to no subsequent interviews with the Illinois State Police, who were called in quickly to investigate the case because of Minton’s connection with Carbondale Police.
In 2013, an inquest jury was presented with the choices of suicide or homicide and ruled the nature of Young’s death undetermined. Jackson County State’s Attorney Mike Carr announced later that year that he lacked compelling evidence to pursue criminal charges in the case, and a special prosecutor announced a largely similar opinion in late 2014.