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Coroner: Asphyxiation caused 2007 death of Navin Jones’ half-brother; investigation continues

210518 Jamie Harwood photo.jpg
Tim Shelley
Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood speaks at the health department's weekly COVID-19 briefing, Nov. 5, 2020.

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood says the death of Stephanie Jones’ 3-month-old son in 2007 was caused by asphyxiation, but an investigation into how Nigel Ragon suffocated continues.

Harwood reopened an investigation into Nigel’s death after Jones, 35, and Brandon Walker, 40, were charged in the abuse and neglect death of their 8-year-old son, Navin Jones. The boy was found unresponsive in their Peoria home on March 29.

Nigel’s death was originally ruled natural and attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a determination that Harwood said is no longer in use as modern investigative techniques can identify an accurate cause.

The infant’s father found him unresponsive and not breathing in their house in Washburn; Stephanie Jones had been home at the time. The boy died a short time later at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.

Harwood said his office will conduct a doll re-enactment later this week with assistance from Illinois State Police crime scene investigators, the Woodford County Sheriff's Office, and the boy's father. The coroner said doll re-enactments are now standard and the best practice for determining a cause, but that was not true in 2007.

Stephanie Jones and Brandon Walker each face six counts of first-degree murder in Navin’s death. They remain in the Peoria County Jail on $5 million bond each, and are next due in court for a scheduling conference on June 30.

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