After more than a week of hearing rumors her daughter died because of using synthetic drugs, Marvene Hughes wants to put those rumors to rest.
“They assumed that it was related to bath salts because she died in her sleep. It’s a very tragic thing that we’re going through right now, but I have to clear my daughter’s name. It was not drug related — real drugs, synthetic drugs. She didn’t even take aspirin,” she said Tuesday.
Danielle Hughes, Marvene’s daughter and a junior at Daniel Boone High School, died Feb. 21 during her sleep at home before school started.
The 16-year-old’s death happened the same day that a sophomore at Daniel Boone reportedly became violent and had to be removed by school resource officers.
While the cause of that student’s behavior has not been confirmed, school officials said there was suspicion the teenage boy was under the influence of something.
When news of the incident hit, rumors that both he and Danielle had taken synthetic drugs like bath salts immediately began.
Since Danielle’s death, her family has had to work hard to dispel rumors she had taken such a substance.
“My heart is breaking because every place I go everybody has heard and everybody thinks she was on these bath salts,” Marvene said. “And I have to pour my heart out to the world and let them know that is not what happened to my precious baby girl.”
The family is still waiting for an autopsy to be completed. At this point, Marvene said they believe Danielle’s death is related to dental work she had about a week before she died.
While they’re unsure of a cause, Marvene said it’s possible her daughter may have died from a blood clot.
One thing Danielle’s family is certain of is that her death was in no way related to drugs of any kind.
Danielle’s brother, Joshua Smith, spoke at her memorial service Tuesday at the high school. Smith made it a point to tell the student body and others in attendance she did not die from taking synthetic drugs.
“I just had to clear my sister’s name. That’s not my sister. She didn’t do any kind of drugs,” he said. “I’ll keep fighting for her until these rumors stop.”
Smith said he believes Danielle’s death would not have received the kind of attention it did if it had not been associated with bath salts and other synthetic drugs.
“Three weeks from now, nobody’s going to talk about Danielle except the people that cared about her, so while the rumors are going on, I want everybody to know now that those are false statements,” he said. “I support the protests that the students are doing 100 percent, but I want people to know that bath salts and stuff like that had nothing to do with my sister.”
Danielle was well-liked, did well at her studies, was active in church and a former Daniel Boone volleyball player.
“The smile that you see in pictures is the smile she had from the time she got up till the time she went to bed,” Marvene said.
The young girl’s death has not only shaken her family but it’s also had a profound impact on the students, faculty and staff at the school.
Smith said more than 600 people attended his sister’s funeral on Friday. He said the loss could still be felt at Tuesday’s memorial service.
With Danielle’s story finally out in the public, her family hopes the truth will now begin to quiet the rumors as they continue to grieve.
“We have to do this to have closure and to be able to let my precious baby girl rest in peace, and I hope this will help some other family,” Marvene said, “because never in a million years did I think I would have to be losing my daughter like that and having to clear the thoughts in people’s minds that had been put there because of drugs.”