Johnson County investigates Center Grove student's death

Samuel Motsay, 16
Published: .
Updated: .

Grief counselors are working at Center Grove High School Monday to help students cope with the death of a fellow teenager.

The Johnson County Sheriff's Department is investigating the death of 16-year-old Samuel Motsay. He was found dead Sunday morning in a home in the 1000 block of Old Eagle Way. That's in the Eagle Trace subdivision in White River Township. No adults were in the home at the time.

The teen was on the honor roll and played basketball. News of his death spread quickly on social media.

"No one expected this to happen to him," said Jenilee Smith, a Center Grove High School sophomore. "He's such a good kid, no one expected him to just be gone the next day."

Johnson County Coroner Craig Lutz said an autopsy on the teenager was inconclusive and that toxicology tests checking for drugs or alcohol in his system could take 4-6 weeks. Detectives say there was no sign of trauma on Motsay's body, so they are looking at other possible causes of death.

"We were told that he was a healthy young man. So, healthy 16-year olds just don't die overnight without a reason," explained Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox.

One possibility is a drug overdose. Motsay was spending the night with two friends. They found him unresponsive around 8:30 Sunday morning. Police found an unidentified substance in the home. State Police will expedite the analysis and identification of that substance.

"We suspect that it could be narcotics-related but we're not absolutely certain, that's why we're awaiting those results to come back before we say," said Cox.

Motsay was known for his love of basketball. He played junior varsity. He also made the honor roll numerous times and may have been best known for lifting spirits.

"He just made my day every time I saw him. I'd always go in to class and he always had something nice to say he just go along with just about everyone," said sophomore Elly Nickell.

Which makes the death and the apparent circumstances even more painful.

"Kids do make sometimes terrible decisions, especially when they're doing something maybe they should not be, and sometimes those things happen. A lot of times they do when parents aren't around," Cox said.

Parents were not around in this case. In fact, the parents of the boy where Motsay was staying were out of state for the weekend.