PEMBROKE PINES (CBS4) – A teenage boy who died at the Citrus Health Treatment Center for adolescents in Pembroke Pines in August died of natural causes.

The cause of death was released by the Broward County medical examiner.

Octavius Howell, 14, was reportedly experiencing stomach pains and a fever according to the chief attorney for the youth psychiatric facility, Josephine Van Hemert, when he was taken to a hospital for treatment.

“He was released by and returned to the hospital twice.  Our pediatrician kept insisting that the hospital not release him,” said Van Hermert in August.

The medical examiner said the teen died as a result of a medical condition called myocarditis and had no other signs of trauma or abuse to his body.

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle which is usually brought on by a virus.

The teenager’s death came shortly after a disturbing video showed an officer punching and pepper spraying a different child, a 14-year-old girl, and raised concerns of abuse at the Citrus Health Treatment Center.

The Department of Children and Families, The Agency for Healthcare Administration and the Pembroke Pines police department said they would investigate allegations of abuse of children at the facility.

Captain Al Axiques told CBS4, in August, the officer and others were at the facility in response to a report of a “riot” among patients called in by staff members at the facility who reported they had “lost control” of the institution.  Axiques said the situation was so severe that Miramar police officers had to be called in to help restore order.

The “riot” at the facility intended to treat severely mentally ill children may raise questions regarding the contractor’s ability to manage the institution and carry out its responsibilities under contracts with various agencies and its license, issued by the Agency for Healthcare Administration.

Citrus Health’s counsel, Van Hemert, issued a statement after the video was released saying, “Citrus Health Network will conduct a thorough internal investigation into these allegations. We also welcome the Florida Department of Children and Families, and the Agency for Health Care Administration to conduct their own investigations into this matter.”

The state said it cannot comment on the ongoing investigation into Citrus.


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