Family Issues Statement About Owasso Student's Identity; Cause Of Death Still To Be Determined

The Owasso Police Chief issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the department knows there is a great deal of public concern about the case and that they are working within the constraints of law to release information as it becomes available.

Tuesday, February 20th 2024, 5:06 pm

By: News On 6, Reagan Ledbetter


(Editor's Note: Numerous viewers have reached out to us with concerns regarding this story, specifically that the person identified in the story is nonbinary. Your concerns are the same ones we have had in numerous editorial meetings. Our team strives to be sensitive and to not misidentify the teenager in this story. Our current sources are the Owasso Police Department and the student's family, who understandably is grieving a tremendous loss. As we get more information from these primary sources, we will update our reporting.)


The death of an Owasso teen is still under active investigation, according to Owasso Police.

Police say the student died on February 8, just one day after officers say there was an altercation between students at Owasso High School. There had been questions and conflicting information regarding the student's name and gender identity, but the family has clarified that the student's name was Nex Benedict and they were non-binary. Previous reporting used the first name 'Dagny' because that was the name listed on the obituary.

Benedict's parent posted the following update on the family's GoFundMe:

"We at this time are thankful for the ongoing support and did not expect the love from everyone. We are sorry for not using their name correctly and as parents, we were still learning the correct forms. Please do not judge us as Nex was judged, please do not bully us for our ignorance on the subject. Nex gave us that respect and we are sorry in our grief that we overlooked them. I lost my child, the headstone will have the correct name of their choice. The rest of monies will go to other children dealing with the right to be who they feel they are, in Nex Benedict’s name. God bless"

Oklahoma Superintendent Ryan Walters Addresses Death Of Owasso Student

Oklahoma's state Superintendent Ryan Walters said that his office has committed resources to helping the school during the investigation.

“The safety and security of our students is my top priority as well as the first responsibility of Oklahoma schools. I mourn the loss of our student in Owasso and pray for God’s comfort for the family and the entire Owasso community.
As part of Oklahoma’s comprehensive School-Based Mental Health Implementation, I have committed all available resources from OSDE to assist Owasso Public Schools during this tragedy and await the full results of the ongoing investigation of the incident by law enforcement.”

Newest Statement From The School On Death Of Nex Benedict

Owasso Public Schools released an updated statement on Tuesday, revealing some new information about the incident that took place and the district's safety and security. School leaders also said that they are working with law enforcement and that there "will still be pieces of information that the district will never be able to share due to federal privacy laws."

See the full statement below:

"Owasso Public Schools has cooperated fully with the investigation by the Owasso Police Department surrounding the death of a high school student on February 8, 2024. The district has limited its statements on the matter to this point due to the ongoing investigation in an effort to not disrupt police, and out of respect and for the confidentiality for all involved. 
However, the speculation and misinformation surrounding the case has intensified in recent days. While there will still be pieces of information that the district will never be able to share due to federal privacy laws, we are reaching out to you today to address some of that misinformation, particularly statements that call into question the district’s commitment to student safety & security. We understand the importance of ensuring a safe and inclusive environment for all students and know that the information below doesn’t change the facts that a fight occurred on school grounds and a student passed away the next day.
We have worked with police to ensure that the information provided below will not disrupt their investigation. 

• On the afternoon of Wednesday, February 7, 2024, a physical altercation occurred in a restroom at the Owasso High School West Campus.

• Students were in the restroom for less than two (2) minutes and the physical altercation was broken up by other students who were present in the restroom at the time, along with a staff member who was supervising outside of the restroom.

• Once the altercation was broken up, all students involved in the altercation walked under their own power to the assistant principal’s office and nurse’s office.

• District administrators began taking statements from the students present in the restroom and began contacting parents/guardians of the students involved in the physical altercation.

• Following district protocols, each of the students involved in the altercation was given a health assessment by a district registered nurse. Per district protocols, students needing further support are transported to a medical facility either by ambulance or by a parent/guardian, depending on the severity of the injuries and preference of the parent/guardian. 

• While it was determined that ambulance service was not required, out of an abundance of caution, it was recommended to one parent that their student visit a medical facility for further examination. 

• Per district protocols, the parents/guardians of students involved in a physical altercation are notified and informed of the option to file a police report should they choose. Should they choose to file a police report, school resource officers are made available to the parents/guardians either at that time or they can schedule an appointment, if they choose, at a later date. These practices were followed during this incident.

• Physical altercations between students are unacceptable. Any student/s engaging in such action, jeopardizing the safety of others, will receive disciplinary consequences. These consequences can include out-of-school suspension for first offense. Due to federal privacy laws, we are unable to disclose the exact nature of disciplinary action taken against any student. That information can only be given to the parents/guardians of the student being disciplined. Any notion that the district has ignored disciplinary action toward those involved is simply untrue. 

• Additional counseling services were provided to students at the high school on Friday, February 9, and continue to be available for all students & staff.

We understand that for many, additional questions remain, however these are the facts that we are able to communicate at this juncture. We will continue to cooperate fully with the Owasso Police Department’s investigation. 
The loss of a student, a member of the Ram Family and the Owasso community, is devastating. We recognize the impact that this event has had on the entire school community and it is our priority to foster an environment where everyone feels heard, supported, and safe. If there is ever a concern about student safety or well-being, please reach out to a teacher, counselor or principal at your child’s school. As we continue to mourn the loss of this student, our hearts go out to their family and they will continue to be in our prayers. We are here to support them and everyone who has been affected by this situation. 

Owasso Police Provide An Update On The Investigation Into The Death Of Nex Benedict

On Tuesday, Owasso Police Chief Dan Yancey said that the department knows that there is a great deal of public concern about the Benedict case and that they are working within the constraints of the law to release information as it becomes available.

"On February 7th, 2024, at approximately 3:30 p.m., the Owasso Police Department was summoned to a local hospital in reference to a report of a student who had been involved in a physical altercation at the Owasso High School prior to the end of school that day. No report of the incident was made to the Owasso Police Department prior to the notification at the hospital.
Information was taken by a School Resource Officer who responded to the hospital. On February 8th, 2024, the Owasso Police Department was made aware that the juvenile was rushed back to a hospital where the student was pronounced dead. It is not known at this time if the death is related to the incident at the school or not. A thorough investigation is being conducted by Owasso Police Detectives who are currently awaiting an autopsy report and toxicology results.
There are laws regarding open records and confidential records and the Owasso Police Department will release all information required by law, but it is the Department’s policy to not release incident reports for cases that are under active investigation when there is a risk of compromising or harming the investigation. We understand that people are concerned about this incident and we can assure everyone that this incident is being taken seriously and is being investigated thoroughly.
Detectives have, are, and will be interviewing school staff and students over the course of the next two weeks and in turn will be submitting our investigation to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution review.
A final cause and manner of death will be determined by the State Medical Examiner’s Office. The Owasso Police Department offers our condolences to the family, friends, fellow students, and loved ones of the deceased student and we will do our best to discover the truth."

A toxicology report usually takes at least six weeks to return results.

ACLU Issues Statement About The Death Of Nex Benedict

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also responded to the incident calling into question the response by Owasso Public Schools, and blaming the incident on Oklahoma laws that target trans youth.

 In response to the death of 16-year-old Owasso High School student Nex Benedict following an assault in the school restroom, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Oklahoma issued the following joint statement:

“We are gravely heartbroken to learn about the death of Nex Benedict and extend our overwhelming condolences to their family, their friends, and the entire transgender community across Oklahoma. The assault on Nex is an inevitable result of the hateful rhetoric and discriminatory legislation targeting Oklahoma trans youth. We challenged Oklahoma’s law requiring schools to discriminate against students like Nex because we believe every student should have the safe and affirming environment they need to thrive, and policies that put transgender students in danger make schools less safe places for all students.

“We are deeply troubled by reports the school failed to respond appropriately to the altercation that preceded Nex’s death and demand a thorough, open investigation into the matter. We will never stop fighting for 2SLGBTQ+ people across Oklahoma and the country until every state is a safe place to raise every family.”

Passed into law in May of 2022, Oklahoma SB 615 requires all public and public charter schools in the state that serve pre-K through 12th-grade students to designate multiple occupancy restrooms at school for the exclusive use of either the male or the female sex, as designated on individuals’ original birth certificates.

Lambda Legal, The ACLU, and the ACLU of Oklahoma filed a federal lawsuit on September 6, 2022, on behalf of three transgender students challenging the law on the grounds SB 615 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, by discriminating on the basis of sex, gender identity, and transgender status.


Previous Story: Funeral Held For 16-Year-Old Owasso Student After Unexpected Death

Previous Story: 'This Is Devastating': Counselors Available At Owasso High School After 16-Year-Old Student's Death

This is a developing story. Refresh for updates.


Get The Daily Update!

Be among the first to get breaking news, weather, and general news updates from News 9 delivered right to your inbox!

More Like This

February 20th, 2024

April 22nd, 2024

April 22nd, 2024

April 22nd, 2024

Top Headlines

April 22nd, 2024

April 22nd, 2024

April 22nd, 2024

April 22nd, 2024