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  • They say it was suicide

    My beautiful daughter was an under-cover narcotics officer for three years, the only female for the state through her short career.
    The county says it was suicide. Shot in the right temple with a 40 cal. bullet, it exited closely behind her left earlobe. The coronor told us that the reason he did no autopsy after her unwittnessed death was because of the position of her body which was on her left side. He stated time of death as 1730, approximately five minutes before a 'friend' found her. I have since found out that the initial pictures show no evidence of her body being moved, she was flat on her back, the blood pooled under her head was congealed, and her hands had begun to draw up.
    Still my family lives in this hell where the case of "suicide" is still open and with so many lies. My daughter who received a BS in criminal justice and was Valditorian of her Academy has received no justice.
    Can anyone help me? Do the forensics sound right? Having seen her just a few days before and so many things to live for, no one who knew her believes this was a case of suicide. Please tell me what you think, does this add up?

  • #2
    If you truly feel that the suicide ruling was not accurate, the only thing I could think of to do would be to hire a professional crime scene reconcstructionist to evaluate all the evidence from the scene and provide their opinion. You could do some research on the net to track someone down.
    That being said, one of the foremost reconstructionists in the country happens to be from Oklahoma: Tom Bevel.
    http://www.tombevel.com/

    Just so you're clear, services like these aren't cheap. The people involved are highly educated and are at the leading edge of their field. You get what you pay for though.
    Anything worth shooting is worth shooting 3 or 4 times.

    M-11

    Comment


    • #3
      Allow me to also offer up my condonlences to you and your family. Your story strikes close to home. My daughter is a narcotics under-cover agent with the agency I work for also. You're note brings a lump in my throat. I am often worried about some of the things my daughter is doing.

      I am not by any means or in any way qualified in the medical field so I won't try to second guess the coronors finding. But what does strike as odd (at least to me) is that the department she works for isn't pressing the issue.

      Being the only female undercover agent in the State. If she was good at her job, she's pizzed (excuse my language) a lot of people off. Just her job should justify a much more detailed investigation than saying the "position of the body" indicates a suicide. This just doesn't work for me.

      I would be my departments worst nightmare if I felt something, everything, wasn't being done to find out the truth about what happened. And while we work very closely with our coronor, if it were me going through this, that coronor wouldn't get another nights sleep until he did a complete and through examination.

      I would have to agree with the other posters, hire a professional crime scene reconstructionists to look at the case for you.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Mother View Post
        My beautiful daughter was an under-cover narcotics officer for three years, the only female for the state through her short career.
        The county says it was suicide. Shot in the right temple with a 40 cal. bullet, it exited closely behind her left earlobe. The coronor told us that the reason he did no autopsy after her unwittnessed death was because of the position of her body which was on her left side. He stated time of death as 1730, approximately five minutes before a 'friend' found her. I have since found out that the initial pictures show no evidence of her body being moved, she was flat on her back, the blood pooled under her head was congealed, and her hands had begun to draw up.
        Still my family lives in this hell where the case of "suicide" is still open and with so many lies. My daughter who received a BS in criminal justice and was Valditorian of her Academy has received no justice.
        Can anyone help me? Do the forensics sound right? Having seen her just a few days before and so many things to live for, no one who knew her believes this was a case of suicide. Please tell me what you think, does this add up?
        Mam my heart goes out to you. My brother took his life three years ago. This Forum really isn't the proper place to seek the answers you want. You will get supposition and conjecture instead of anything solid.

        I recommend you contact an agency OSBI? that routinely deals with death investigations, perhaps they can attempt to answer you concerns. Be forewarned however that I learned from my brothers death that you will have questions that will never be answered.

        Best wishes
        RKT
        "a band is blowing Dixie double four time You feel alright when you hear the music ring"


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        • #5
          Very sorry for your loss. Contact the state's criminal investigative arm and see if they can check into it for you.

          Comment


          • #6
            Missouri has nothing like the OSBI, they use the MO Hwy Patrol. MHP wants very much to help us but because the county didn't 'invite' their help, they can't. Did you know that the county coroner is an elected official (much like a dog catcher) and is also the funeral home director who prepared her body. Here's another example of what we've been told - three months after her death the Sheriff told me her fingerprints were found all over the gun (which didn't belong to her. and to "Stop asking questions!" I found out the next day from another source in his office the gun had never been printed. That's just one of the many lies we've been told, besides things like "You have three other children you need to live for so stop asking questions! I've been a psychiatric RN for 19 years but it doesn't take an expert to tell somethings wrong. Another factor - she had quit under-cover approx 3 months before and become a uniformed officer to start a "normal" life.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by On the sly
              First, allow me to express my condolences for you and your family. It is a terrible thing whenever any of us die, and I cannot imagine what it feels like for a parent to outlive their child nor do I ever want to experience it.

              That being said, please take the following with a grain of salt. Sometimes there are no warnings for suicide, and while I'm certain you're aware of that, I hope that you take some time to reflect before spending thousands of dollars on an answer you might not want to hear.

              However if you really are certain that foul play was involved in your daughter's death, I recommend that you pursue an independent investigation with vigor.

              I offer prayers for you and your family if you're willing to accept them.

              Best of luck,

              James

              Condolences and Prayers in abundance to you and your family. I agree with Sly. If you feel that foul play is a part of this, by all means hire your own investigator. I find it odd that they told you to stop asking questions. My dept would answer any questions you have. I admit that I have none of the facts surrounding the whole situation, but something doesnt add up given what you have posted. Keep prying for answers until you have closure or receive the information you feel is right. Good luck to you.
              John 3:16

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm very sorry for your loss and the treatment you seem to have received from the Sheriff. As the family member of one who committed suicide and an investigator who's handled many such cases, I understand where you're coming from. Those who've lost their loved ones often need details that some members of our profession think will only make their pain worse. It's really not up to us to decide what's in the family's interest. It's their decision and (if you really want all the facts of the case) you should pursue the matter until you're satisfied no additional information is available.

                Please understand that the investigation of sudden, unexpected deaths (homicides/suicides/accidents/natural causes) are not handled uniformly across the country. The quality of the investigation depends upon the expertise of those assigned and that can vary widely. Some agencies simply don't have the resources to provide the proper training to their officers/investigators and in certain jurisdictions homicides occur so rarely that what little experience is obtained must be supplemented by outside sources (ie: the state police, FBI or other agencies).

                There isn't room to adequately address what actions should be taken at all death scenes, but in essence all unexpected deaths should be initially handled as homicides. Unfortunately, this isn't done and frequently forensics evidence is ignored, destroyed or left at the scene. The possibility exists that because those investigating the case felt this was a "clear cut" case of suicide, the gun involved may not have been processed for latent fingerprints or DNA. Gunshot residue tests may not have been performed, and the autopsy may not have been as thorough as needed. Blood spatter evidence might not have been properly photographed or (if it was) analyzed by an expert.

                This doesn't mean there was a "cover-up", that your daughter was murdered, or that the officers doing the investigation were incompetent. It simply means those at the scene may have correctly assessed this to be a suicide and didn't expend as much time and effort on the investigation as they would if they'd believed the death may have been a homicide. Physical evidence that might have put your mind at ease could well have been lost.

                Unlike "CSI" and other fictional portrayals of police work, physical evidence at the scene doesn't always provides the answers we seek. In some cases of suicide, the best confirmation comes from an investigation that focuses on the writings of the decedent, his/her statements and actions prior to death, and interviews of family, friends, co-workers, and other associates. A "psychological autopsy" (examination of the decedent's mental health based upon these follow-ups) can provide some answers, but family members must understand this is not a perfect science.

                Please consider that getting all the details necessary for your peace of mind might not be possible. Even the best of investigations can only find so much. If you believe you need more information than what's been provided so far, you could contact the state police (Highway Patrol?) and make a formal request for assistance. Since you don't seem to be getting anywhere with the investigating agency, another alternative is to hire a private investigator who's experienced in death investigations. If he/she contacted the originating agency, they'd be able to look at the case as an unbiased third party and possibly put your mind at ease. Keep in mind that good PIs aren't inexpensive and in all probability their analysis of the manner/cause of death would be the same as has already been stated. An independent autopsy could also be conducted by an experienced pathologist, but this too would be costly.

                Think about the options that are available, research them thoroughly (if you decide to pay for privately contracted services) and be prepared to learn additional information might not be forthcoming. There is a possibility that at some point you will have learned all you could about your daughter's death. Unlike fiction, some answers will never be found and survivors have to understand and accept this as fact. That you loved your daughter completely is undeniable. She was obviously a cherished member of your family, and an accomplished police officer who's life ended far too soon. Your grief is understandable and I pray that you find the answers you're looking for to help you deal with it.
                "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

                Comment


                • #9
                  You are correct about the coroners. Coroners contract with physicians to provide autopsies and medical expertise to support their investigations. In contrast, the medical examiners are almost always appointed to their positions, and should be physicians with training in medicolegal death investigation.

                  I agree with other posters that, if possible, you should look in to hiring a credible outside investigator. In my experience, a female self inflicting a gun shot to their own temple is very rare. I've only seen it once in 22 years. Without reading the case and looking at the evidence, there is really no way to make a definite comment either way on this case based on the information you provided. I wish you well in finding peace.
                  sigpic

                  " 'Blessed are the Peacemakers', is, I suppose, to be understood in the other world, for in this one they are frequently cursed." - Benjamin Franklin

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by pulicords View Post
                    I'm very sorry for your loss and the treatment you seem to have received from the Sheriff. As the family member of one who committed suicide and an investigator who's handled many such cases, I understand where you're coming from. Those who've lost their loved ones often need details that some members of our profession think will only make their pain worse. It's really not up to us to decide what's in the family's interest. It's their decision and (if you really want all the facts of the case) you should pursue the matter until you're satisfied no additional information is available.

                    Please understand that the investigation of sudden, unexpected deaths (homicides/suicides/accidents/natural causes) are not handled uniformly across the country. The quality of the investigation depends upon the expertise of those assigned and that can vary widely. Some agencies simply don't have the resources to provide the proper training to their officers/investigators and in certain jurisdictions homicides occur so rarely that what little experience is obtained must be supplemented by outside sources (ie: the state police, FBI or other agencies).

                    There isn't room to adequately address what actions should be taken at all death scenes, but in essence all unexpected deaths should be initially handled as homicides. Unfortunately, this isn't done and frequently forensics evidence is ignored, destroyed or left at the scene. The possibility exists that because those investigating the case felt this was a "clear cut" case of suicide, the gun involved may not have been processed for latent fingerprints or DNA. Gunshot residue tests may not have been performed, and the autopsy may not have been as thorough as needed. Blood spatter evidence might not have been properly photographed or (if it was) analyzed by an expert.

                    This doesn't mean there was a "cover-up", that your daughter was murdered, or that the officers doing the investigation were incompetent. It simply means those at the scene may have correctly assessed this to be a suicide and didn't expend as much time and effort on the investigation as they would if they'd believed the death may have been a homicide. Physical evidence that might have put your mind at ease could well have been lost.

                    Unlike "CSI" and other fictional portrayals of police work, physical evidence at the scene doesn't always provides the answers we seek. In some cases of suicide, the best confirmation comes from an investigation that focuses on the writings of the decedent, his/her statements and actions prior to death, and interviews of family, friends, co-workers, and other associates. A "psychological autopsy" (examination of the decedent's mental health based upon these follow-ups) can provide some answers, but family members must understand this is not a perfect science.

                    Please consider that getting all the details necessary for your peace of mind might not be possible. Even the best of investigations can only find so much. If you believe you need more information than what's been provided so far, you could contact the state police (Highway Patrol?) and make a formal request for assistance. Since you don't seem to be getting anywhere with the investigating agency, another alternative is to hire a private investigator who's experienced in death investigations. If he/she contacted the originating agency, they'd be able to look at the case as an unbiased third party and possibly put your mind at ease. Keep in mind that good PIs aren't inexpensive and in all probability their analysis of the manner/cause of death would be the same as has already been stated. An independent autopsy could also be conducted by an experienced pathologist, but this too would be costly.

                    Think about the options that are available, research them thoroughly (if you decide to pay for privately contracted services) and be prepared to learn additional information might not be forthcoming. There is a possibility that at some point you will have learned all you could about your daughter's death. Unlike fiction, some answers will never be found and survivors have to understand and accept this as fact. That you loved your daughter completely is undeniable. She was obviously a cherished member of your family, and an accomplished police officer who's life ended far too soon. Your grief is understandable and I pray that you find the answers you're looking for to help you deal with it.
                    My condolences to your family for teh tragic loos of your daughter. Godd post and guidance from Puli and others.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      ^^^ Sorry for the misspellings and typo's. Got something in my eye

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Mother, first I'm very sorry for your loss.

                        Please understand that we're at a very big disadvantage, here, because we don't have witness statements, photos, and everything else an investigation would supply that we would need to help us determine what happened to your daughter. And even with all that in our hands we might still be wrong.

                        For six of my 30 years with LAPD I helped handle the aftermath of employee deaths...line of duty, off-duty accidental, natural, and of course, suicide. I've known, personally/professionally, maybe a dozen+ cops who've killed themselves. I'm a guy who wrote articles about, and helped create a video about, police suicide prevention. I saw one woman, a former probationer of mine, one week to the day before she shot herself.

                        Yes, it's rare, but women do shoot themselves. Most in the chest, but a couple in the head. Pulicords has said many of the same things I would have said.

                        In the end, some people don't want to believe that one low-life little loser named Lee Harvey Oswald could kill the most beloved and pwerful man in the world. Some don't want to believe that 19 rag-headed, goat-boners could use box cutters to destroy a large chunk of NYC and the Pentagon, and kill thousands of Americans. TV & movies tell us that it's always a deep dark secret plot....because perhaps accepting that "it is, what it is" means to me that I somehow missed a clue...could've prevented...should've done more...to stop it.

                        In regards to suicide, surviving families want a note...not always there. They want to identify and blame some other party...a cheating spouse, a cruel boss, horrible life (or work) experiences...again, not always there.

                        Even if you had these things would you, could you ever freely accept that your precious daughter was able to do this to herself? Not one of the surviving parents, whom I dealt with, was able to very easily.

                        I'm sorry, again, for your loss. I hope you find some peace, one day.
                        Last edited by Kieth M.; 09-20-2009, 01:17 PM. Reason: Removed sigs
                        "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

                        Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

                        Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Maam, I can add nothing to the excellent thoughts of my colleagues. I can, and do, extend my sincere condolences, and prayers.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            What they said - it's all correct and appropriate.

                            That said, I wish you comfort and healing.
                            The All New
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                            • #15
                              My condolences to you and your family. I would contact osbi and if matters don't resolve, you may want to hire someone.

                              Comment

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