HARRISBURG (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania teen has died seven months after she found herself at the center of a purported rescue mission that ended with the arrest of three heavily armed suspects on the New Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel, a coroner said on Saturday.
Coroner Bill Lisman of Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County said his office was investigating the death of Jenae Patterson, 18, of Wilkes-Barre.
Her death was first reported Friday by a local newspaper, which quoted her father, James Patterson, as saying she was victim of a drug overdose.
“I know the father is saying that, but we will not state a cause of death until the tests come back,” Lisman said. “That will take two to three weeks.”
Patterson’s death is an epilogue to an incident that unfolded last June when police pulled over a van for a cracked windshield at the toll plaza at the tunnel, a major thoroughfare under the Hudson River into New York City.
Searching the van, which was covered with stickers supporting gun rights, police found five pistols, an AR-15 assault rifle and a .12 gauge shotgun, as well as knives, body armor, camouflage gear and ammunition.
The discovery, coming a week after a gunman inspired by Islamic militants killed 49 people at an Orlando, Florida nightclub, immediately raised concerns about the intentions of three people in the van. The incident led to the closure of the tunnel for several hours.
One of the suspects, John Cramsey, 50, told investigators the trio was traveling to Brooklyn to rescue Patterson from a drug house, the Newark Star-Ledger reported in June.
A second suspect, Kimberly Arendt, 30, who knew Patterson from a summer camp, said the teen had texted that she had awakened in the drug house to find another friend had died there of an overdose, according to the Scranton Times-Tribune.
Arendt, Cramsey, and a third suspect, identified as Dean Smith, 53, pleaded not guilty in October in a Jersey City court to 63 gun-related charges. They are awaiting trial.
Neither Patterson nor the girl’s mother, Cyndi Angeles, could be reached for comment Saturday.
Reporting By Frank McGurty; Editing by Alan Crosby