City and campus police, along with paramedics, arrived at Taco Bell on Fifth Avenue, across from Youngstown State University around 1:30 p.m. Thursday in response to a 22-year-old woman found dead in the eatery’s restroom.
Police have identified her as Cassie Alderman, 22, of Irondale, Ohio.
Alderman was found seated on the toilet, with her T-shirt removed. It was clear upon the arrival of city police officers that she was deceased. She was found with a syringe at her feet, and it appeared that she had shot up drugs, reports say.
On Thursday, upon discovery of Alderman’s body, Taco Bell shut down its facilities.
“We closed the lobby of the store to cooperate with the police investigation,” said Taco Bell spokesperson Rob Poetsch.
Dr. Joseph Ohr, medical examiner for the Mahoning County Coroner’s Office, performed an autopsy on Alderman’s body on Friday at 1 p.m.
He said the body has multiple puncture wounds, but he found no evidence that she could have been beaten or that it was a homicide.
“Equally important, there is no evidence of natural diseases,” Ohr said.
He added that there is no sign of food poisoning.
“Yes, we are studying this as a toxicology case. This generally takes months to determine,” Ohr said.
He will be working to determine the cause of death in the coming months.
Carmen Twyford, YSU alumna, attended Edison High School with Alderman. They graduated in 2008.
Twyford found out from a high school friend that Alderman had passed away.
“It’s crazy because she’s the first person from our class to pass away,” Twyford said.
Although she wasn’t close with Alderman in high school, Twyford said her thoughts would be with her friends and family.
Twyford said Alderman had a young son.
“It’s really sad. I mean, she lived hard,” Twyford said.
Freshman Hayley Dustman was leaving Taco Bell shortly before the ambulance arrived.
“I saw the ambulance, and I thought, “Dang. Is it not safe to get a taco anymore?’” Dustman said. “I assumed that someone either collapsed, or maybe there was a fight. I was surprised when a friend of mine told me that someone had actually died.”
After discovering that drugs may have played a part in her death, Dustman said she was shocked that someone would do that near campus.
“I’m probably going to avoid that bathroom now, just because it’s weird that someone died there,” Dustman said.
The Jambar searched her name in the student directory to find that she was not a student enrolled at the university.
Graduate student Lauren Perisa said she would still go to Taco Bell despite the incident.
“I’m sure they handled it and that everything will be cleaned up by the time I go back,” Perisa said.
She was also shocked after she heard the news Friday.
Senior Mario Cicchillo heard the news in a picture message of the story via text from a friend.
“At first, I thought maybe it was someone older, maybe someone with a health condition,” Cicchillo said. “When I found out she was only 22, I was shocked.”
Additional reporting by Kevin Alquist.