A Coastal Georgia teenager remains hospitalized a week after being tied up, spray-painted and dropped off at a hospital on the brink of death, officials said.
Now the GBI is investigating the incident, parts of which were filmed at what appeared to be a house party on St. Simons Island and posted to social media.
The victim, Trent Lehrkamp, 19, was highly intoxicated when three other teens dropped him off at the hospital on March 21, and had a mixture of drugs and alcohol in his system, Glynn County police said. An online fundraiser to assist with with Lehrkamp’s medical expenses had raised nearly $75,000 as of midday Tuesday.
The fundraising page said Lehrkamp, a 2022 Glynn Academy graduate, was picked up from his home and spent the evening “with a group of people he thought were his friends.”
“Trent wouldn’t know until it was too late that these were not friends, but vile and abusive perpetrators who would go on to torture, humiliate, and assault him in inhumane, terrifying ways for hours,” the fundraiser page said, adding that Lehrkamp was breathing just six times a minute when he was dropped off at the hospital.
At the time, he had a blood alcohol level of .464, according to a Glynn County police report. That’s nearly six times the legal limit. The report said Lehrkamp was unresponsive after consuming a combination of vodka and antidepressants. His clothes were soaked in urine, he had spray paint all over his body and hair and a small bruise on his shoulder.
Lerhkamp remains in the intensive care unit with a lung infection, but is conscious and speaking, authorities said.
“He is stable, but still in the ICU recovering and fighting through some lung infection from the aspiration,” an update from his family posted to the fundraising page said. “He is still lightly sedated as he is very panicked and anxious when awake.”
The three youths who brought him to Southeast Georgia Health Center told hospital staff they had someone in their Jeep in need of medical attention, according to police. They gave their names and phone numbers to employees, but left the hospital before police arrived. According to the report, they repeatedly asked hospital staff if they were free to leave.
“Officers did not see any signs of physical injury (to Lehrkamp) but did note the presence of spray paint,” the department said in a social media post.
Detectives served a search warrant at the St. Simons home hours later and have since interviewed several teens about the incident, authorities said. On Sunday, police interviewed Lehrkamp at the hospital and said he gave them a statement about what happened at the party.
Police also said multiple social media videos purportedly showing what happened were actually from a previous incident involving Lehrkamp.
Days earlier, Lehrkamp came home covered in WD-40, vomit, paint, glue and egg yolk, a police report said. A week before that, Lehrkamp’s father took his son to the emergency room with a cut above his eye that required stitches, it said.
“Working with the GBI, electronic evidence which has been recovered is being analyzed for information regarding the current incident as well as any previous incidents,” the department said, noting detectives have been in touch with the FBI, the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office, the local school board and the district attorney’s office.
No charges had been filed as of Tuesday afternoon.
More than 200 people attended a rally and vigil Monday evening, calling on Glynn County police to arrest those responsible. The event was organized by Thea Brooks, whose nephew, Ahmaud Arbery, was shot and killed in Glynn County in February 2020.
“(Authorities) sat on this for over a week but nobody heard about it until a parent got a hold of some information,” said Brooks, who became a community activist after her 25-year-old nephew’s death; three men are serving life sentences. “It’s just dumbfounding.”
A second rally is being planned for Saturday at Neptune Park on St. Simons, Brooks said.
In a social media post, the Glynn County commissioner who represents the island penned a message to residents who are “angry and heart-broken” over last week’s incident.
“As your Island County Commissioner, I want to express how appalled I am over the actions of a group of minors who committed the physical and mental atrocities that caused Trent to be hospitalized and suffer as he has,” said Cap Fendig.
The District 2 commissioner added he feels confident the police are doing their job and called on the community to support Lehrkamp and his family as he recovers.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Glynn County detectives. Tipsters wishing to remain anonymous may do so by contacting the department’s “silent witness” program at 912-264-1333.
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Credit: Jason Getz/AJC