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Son of Ex-Enron Executive Skilling Found Dead

The youngest son of former Enron President Jeff Skilling was found dead in his Southern California apartment this week, a police spokesman and Skilling's attorney said Thursday.

John Taylor Skilling, 20, was found dead in his Santa Ana home around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday after his friends called police when he didn't show up for a planned dinner, police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.

Paramedics found bottles of prescription medication near the younger Skilling, who friends said had been distraught after breaking up with his girlfriend, according to Bertagna.

Jeff Skilling's attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, said there was no indication of suicide and the death appeared to be an accidental overdose. A comedy movie was queued up on the young man's computer screen, Petrocelli said.

The younger Skilling, who went by J.T., was a sophomore at nearby Chapman University and the youngest of Skilling's three children.

"He didn't have any major issues. He just a healthy, young college kid and just a wonderful young man. This is very, very tragic," Petrocelli said.

The Orange County coroner's office was waiting for toxicology tests that could take up to six weeks before determining the cause of death, said Jae Simon, a forensic supervisor.

A Chapman University spokeswoman did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Jeff Skilling, 56, was the highest-ranking executive to be punished for Enron's downfall and is currently serving a 24-year sentence in federal prison for fraud, insider trading, conspiracy and lying to auditors. He is appealing his conviction, and Petrocelli said he will seek a temporary release from prison to attend his son's funeral.

Company founder Kenneth Lay's similar convictions were vacated after he died of heart disease less than two months after trial.

Enron's 2001 collapse into bankruptcy, under the weight of years of illicit business deals and accounting tricks, put more than 5,000 people out of work, wiped out more than $2 billion in employee pensions and rendered worthless $60 billion in Enron stocks. Its aftershocks were felt across Houston and the energy industry.