CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Two days before Arielle Troutman was found dead alongside her best friend on train tracks in south Charlotte, a breakup with her girlfriend put the 16-year-old in “a dark place,” her father told the Observer on Tuesday.
Arielle and 18-year-old Hannah Elizabeth Rigley were found dead early Sunday near where the tracks meet Monroe Road and the McAlpine Creek greenway.
A train conductor said he saw someone sleeping on the tracks, but couldn’t stop in time. Paramedics found the two teens dead beneath the train.
Jamie Troutman is not sure why his daughter died – whether because of a drug overdose or suicide or some other cause. He said he hasn’t received a final answer from police or the Mecklenburg Medical Examiner’s Office.
Police say they have ruled out foul play, but their investigation continues. A police report obtained by the Observer lists several potential causes of death, including suicide, overdose, and sudden natural death. The report says both teens were incapacitated by drugs, but doesn’t describe which substance.
Troutman described his daughter as “Goth-y.” He said she had a bright future. She was “a wonderful writer and poet” who wanted to be a journalist, he said, sobbing. The junior at East Mecklenburg High had twice been involved with the Charlotte Observer’s Explorer Post, a program for high school students considering careers in journalism.
But things were different last week, Troutman said.
“There wasn’t a cry for help,” he said. “There was, I’d call it a heads-up on the 15th. She broke up with her girlfriend and (said), ‘I’m feeling down.’ … Arielle was definitely in a dark place.”
Since the deaths, Troutman said those close to his daughter have said she tried to obtain drugs, then planned to walk down the tracks until she passed out.
On March 15, the day Troutman says his daughter and her girlfriend broke up, Arielle posted about love several times on her Twitter profile. “I want someone to give me real and pure love,” she wrote.
Later, she said: “I want someone to see me as a princess. A queen. … But that’s never going to happen.”
Posts that same day on Arielle’s Tumblr blog were darker. She wrote about breaking up with her girlfriend, drugs, and suicide.
The post says she has “directions from my house to nearest tracks saved on my phone … i only stay for my best friend so the minute she’s ready, im going down with her.”
Rigley’s family members have declined to comment.
Arielle’s dad says he’s making funeral plans. He is also undergoing counseling.
“I’ve lost my dad, I’ve lost my mother, but there’s nothing like losing your child,” he said.
Sarah Greene, a clinical social worker for Mecklenburg County, said schools, teachers and parents should be especially vigilant after incidents like this.
“I think it’s a risk for someone who’s already at risk,” she said. “If anybody knows something about a teenager who has previously had attempts at suicide, who’s had thoughts of suicide, those are the people that you need to really pay special attention to now.”