Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Our Official Request of the FBI

FBI Headquarters 
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
(202) 324-3000

April 8, 2014

To Whom It May Concern:

We are formally requesting that your office conduct an investigation into the death and circumstances surrounding the death of our son, Alexander (Alex) J. Heitman. At the time of his death, Alex was a two year resident of Knoxville, TN and an employee of the Oak Ridge School District Business Office. On July 25, 2011, he was found dead of a shotgun wound to the head in a remote part of Cocke County, TN, a place where he had never been before which was located 67 miles from his home and 80 miles from his intended destination that morning, his office at the Oak Ridge School District Administration Building.

Questionable cause of death

From listening to 911 audio files, Alex’s death was presumed to be a suicide prior to the discovery of his body and prior to the arrival of the coroner. This presumption seems to be the only basis for the annotation (of suicide) on his final death certificate. At the time, we were in shock because we had no reason to believe he would commit suicide. To date, we have not been provided any evidence to support this claim. Though we have made repeated requests to various offices, we’ve received no documentation from any authority that indicates who made the initial suggestion or final determination that Alex committed suicide.

We were told by Cocke County Detective Richard Caldwell that they’d have to do an autopsy to confirm what caused his death because they couldn’t determine the point of entry and it appeared inconsistent with suicide. When we asked what he meant, he said that someone else could have done this. In fact, in one of the calls between Cocke County officials, a dispatcher reported to the Knoxville PD that it appeared he was shot in the head and not the mouth, which contradicts the autopsy findings.

Though the autopsy was ordered because there was a question of whether or not Alex’s death was a suicide, the autopsy report does not attribute the cause of death listed (shotgun wound of head) to suicide or homicide.

We are also told by the man who reported finding Alex’s body to police, Nathan Wilde, that he found evidence left at the scene the following day to include portions of Alex’s brain and a shotgun shell casing. Without this evidence, we fail to understand how any autopsy could prove to be conclusive. It would seem impossible to definitively rule on the total number of shots fired or the angle from which they were fired. We believe that an “inconclusive” finding, at the very least, would have been more appropriate.

Missing Documentation

Though we’ve been advised by the Tennessee Open Records Counsel, Elisha Hodge, that we are entitled to many of these documents, we’ve been unable to obtain or have been denied access to the following:

1.      Ballistics and fingerprints: Even though we were told by Cocke County Detective Richard Caldwell that a full investigation was done, we were informed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations  that no ballistics or fingerprints were ordered by the District Attorney and therefore none were performed. We therefore have no confirmation that the guns found at the scene were fired or by whom. Furthermore, though the guns were willed to his father, to this day, Detective Woods refuses to turn them over to us. He’d even told us at one point that they’d been lost.
2.      Coroner’s Report: Terry Jarnigan was the coroner who arrived on the scene. We’ve requested a copy of his report and have received no response.
3.      The Medical Examiner’s Report and Photos. Both Knox County Medical Examiner Dr. Steven Cogswell from UT Medical Center who performed Alex’s autopsy and his supervisor, Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan have refused us access to the autopsy photos and internal report. The basis of their refusal is two-fold. First, they site ownership by Cocke County since they paid for the autopsy. Second, they claim a concern that they would be lost in the mail. Instead, they offer us the opportunity to view them in person, knowing that we live in Wisconsin.
4.      Crime Scene Photos:  We requested the complete set of unedited crime scene photos of our son’s body and the surrounding evidence. Only after many months of begging and pleading did Detective Derek Woods finally send us some photos. To our dismay, we received what appeared to be doctored photos. None of the photos show Alex’s face, the front of his body, the brain matter that was avulsed around him or any blood. Most of the photos taken of the surrounding area were missing all together.
5.      Full Police Report: Initially, we were provided with an Incident Report and told that a full, final police report would be forthcoming. We were never provided a final report.
6.      Documentation verifying who identified our son’s body. According to 911 audio files, his car did not have the proper license plates; officers used the VIN number to verify his car. Neither of us (his parents) nor his wife identified his body, which was subsequently cremated. We were prevented by the funeral home staff from viewing his face.
             Neither Cocke County Baptist Hospital nor U.T. Medical Center has records stating who identified his body. Pam at U.T. Medical Center told us that he’d been identified at Cocke County Baptist Hospital prior to his arrival at U.T. Medical Center. None of the documents they provided name a witness or provide any type of signature.
7.      No victimology was conducted to determine motive and intent. Though we are aware of stressors in Alex’s life at the time of his death, we are unconvinced that they were enough to push him over the edge, especially considering he was about to become a father; was pursuing his Ph.D. at the age of 28 and had at least one pending job offer from what we understand. We are aware that the days after his death, the Oak Ridge Police Department (ORPD) Chief of Police Jim Akagi attempted to conduct interviews of Alex’s coworkers and supervisors but was denied access by the schools’ Superintendent, Tom Bailey.
8.      Complete call log from Cocke County Dispatch: Though we received some of the audio files we requested, there appear to be some that are missing. Additionally, a number of side calls were made between Cocke County dispatch and the officers on the scene (“21” requests) which leave many gaps in the sequence of events. We’ve been provided no documentation of those calls.

Significant Errors in Official Records

The few documents (death certificate, autopsy and delayed report of diagnosis) that we have been able to access contain a number of errors:

1.      No time or approximate time of death/injury is listed on any of the documentation.  
2.      The autopsy omits Alex’s legal first name entirely and refers to him only as “John Heitman.” It appears that this error originated with the Baptist Hospital of Cocke County. All of this hospital’s documentation lists him as John, even though they correctly documented his date of birth and the fact that he was an organ donor, both items would have been found on his driver’s license. It is difficult to believe that this hospital or any of the Cocke County officials treated our son with any level of dignity when we hear them state his given first name of Alexander repeatedly on the 911 calls yet make such a blatant error in all of the files about him. The coroner was at the scene and signed off on some of these files. There is no logical reason he should have allowed these errors to happen.
3.      The autopsy lists Dr. Tim McConnell as the authorizing authority; all other documents list the Cocke County ME’s name as “David H. McConnell, M.D.”
4.      The autopsy under-reports his height by 3 inches (if actual height were measured, this would indicate a significant portion of brain matter was left behind as reported by the witness who returned to the scene the following day)
5.      The Delayed Report of Diagnosis (which serves as the final page of the death certificate and was completely handwritten) violated TN state law which states that “All certificates and records relating to vital events must be prepared on a typewriter with a black ribbon….no certificate shall be complete and correct and acceptable for registration:

(b) That does not supply all items of information called for thereon or satisfactorily account for their omission” - The Medical Examiner didn’t date his signature as required in box 26c; 
(c) “That contains alterations or erasures” - Alex’s first name was added after the fact outside of the box
(h) “That contains improper or inconsistent data” - 31e Place of Injury states “home;” Alex’s home was in Knoxville and his body was found 67 miles away in Cocke County.

6.   Hospital documentation incomplete and errors:
  • Instructions for release of body lacked both a physician’s and a witness’ signature and none of the criteria for autopsy were checked (it appears that at least four were applicable).
  • The documents give us reason to question whether or not the Cocke County Medical Examiner David McConnell ever actually examined Alex’s body. His signature is lacking on the files and appears to have been forged by the coroner on the actual Order for Autopsy. 

reporting of and cooperation with investigations

Alex had been cooperating with local law enforcement before his death. However, when we initially requested information about these investigations, ORPD Chief Jim Akagi denied Alex had ever been “in communication with anyone at the Police Department” and Anderson County District Attorney Dave Clark denied his office had issued any subpoenas for his “assistance in an investigation.” It took us two years after his death to receive files both men denied existed.

ORPD reports and Anderson County Court documents revealed Alex had been subpoenaed at least six times the month preceding his death (June) regarding a fraudulent check cashing ring that he’d initially reported to the Oak Ridge Police Department involving one of the Oak Ridge School bank accounts. We have been unable to determine if the originator of the checks has been charged or answered for how she obtained the schools’ account and routing information, the signature stamps of the superintendent and business director or the computer equipment and software she used to print the checks. We also do not know who else may have had access to this same information and equipment.

In fulfillment of these subpoenas, we question who he may have been testifying in front of since the Grand Jury Foreman was/is the Board of Education Chairman for the same school system who employed Alex.

We are also aware that a subsequent federal investigation was to be initiated after some of the people were prosecuted because their pleas involved agreements to “cooperate with federal authorities in a counterfeiting investigation as a condition of probation.” We’ve been unable to learn of the outcome of that investigation.

Alex was served with one final subpoena six days before his death in July. We’ve been unable to verify what the subpoena was for or if Alex was ever able to fulfil the requirements of that subpoena.

Oak Ridge School Financial Issues

We believe Alex may have been cooperating with another investigation into the schools finances while working with the District Attorney Dave Clark and other agencies. In a number of phone conversations (which we documented) after Alex’s death, Mr. Clark led us to believe that he was going to ask the TBI and possibly the FBI to investigate the business conduct of the schools, their accounting department and the school superintendent. Though Mr. Clark did eventually confirm (in an email) that he’d ordered a special audit of the school finances after Alex’s death, he is now denying having ever told us that he was going to pursue the aforementioned indictments. 

We do know that Alex was working on the 2011 audit when he died. He turned in his part the Friday before the Monday that he died. In one of our conversations with Mr. Clark, he informed us that Alex had refused to sign off the audit.

Alex was supposed to be on vacation the week he died, but Bailey demanded that he come in that Monday morning (the day of his death) for a meeting.

Mr. Bailey had made some strange statements the day of Alex’s death. When Annette called him to ask “Where is our son? What do you know?” he said he had not seen him that day at all. Bailey said that they were in the middle of the audit and there were some questions about 2-4 “procedural transactions.” He said that was what the meeting was about, it was “nothing terrible, nothing criminal, nothing fraudulent...”

Bailey’s responses were eerily similar to what  he said to the local papers after it was known that Alex was dead:  “Bailey said he and other school officials, including Heitman and Karen Gagliano, the district's director of business and support services, had in recent weeks met with auditors to discuss the annual audit of the district's financial records. ‘At that point, it wasn't done but it was excellent,’ Bailey said. ‘I had no concerns and I still have no concerns, in my opinion, that would rise to the level of any activity that would give me concern.’

Alex shared with family that he was hired to clean up financial issues specifically concerning the 2008 audit which had over $1 million in adjustments. He also shared a number of concerns about the manner in which business was conducted within the administration. Our discussions with one former employee, Lynn Hash, support the claims Alex made to us. Some of those claims are very specific and, in our research, we believe that we have found evidence that corroborate some of his specific statements.

Oak Ridge School System 2010 Audit

Additionally, we have found a number of concerns regarding the Oak Ridge School System 2010 audit. This particular audit contains Alex’s signature and is the only on in at least a decade containing an ORS employee signature other than Tom Bailey or Karen Gagliano (Alex’s supervisors).

This same audit was edited over three months AFTER Alex died as follows: 

NOTE (B): Subsequent to the issuance of the original FY 2010 financial statements in December 2010, management determined that two federal awards involving ARRA funds totaling $948,744 (see page 113) were not included in the schedule of expenditures of federal and state awards. Additional procedures as required by OMB Circular A-133 were performed and these restated financial statements were issued effective November 11, 2011.

Alex had also been revising policies and giving training to staff to combat fraud, waste and abuse within the system based on negative 2010 audit findings. We have the Power Points of one of these training sessions given in June 2011 that elaborates on these findings. Samples pulled directly from this presentation developed by Alex include:

“correction – not cover-up….improper or no bids….deficit fund balances….inadequate collection records… deposits not made timely….purchase authorizations not completed properly, dated after invoice…..inadequate separation of duties…invoice amount does not equal check amount…collection records not prepared for all collections…

Findings Deserving Undivided Attention:
·         Cash/check ration in collection records did not agree with bank
·         Receipts did not agree with collection logs
·         Money receipted does not reconcile with deposits
·         No deposits for October, February and June
·         Receipts could not be traced to deposit
·         Receipt totals not matched with deposit totals
·         Teacher receipts not issued to payee and had wrong date
·         Invoice amount does not equal check amount”

Though he was publicly praised for this training by Assistant Superintendent Ken Green, privately Mr. Green severely scolded him for reasons he never understood.  

The 2010 Audit also contains a tremendous amount of changes with large debt bonds to include refinancing, swaps, derivative interest swap ($15-$20M worth of bond swaps), and the downgrading of one of the banks involved in a rate swap, Depfa Bank.

In closing, Alex was a man of impeccable character who was extremely intelligent and had already achieved a tremendous level of success at a very young age. Even so, he had plans for an even brighter future.  He was a loving husband who was eagerly anticipating the birth of his first child and had gone so far as to adjust his life insurance policy just a few weeks before his death.

In his work and cooperation with authorities, we fear that he may have trusted the wrong person or identified someone that found out about these investigations. We’ve faced extreme difficulties with local authorities in our quest for answers to what happened to our son. We reiterate our request that you open an investigation into the death of our son, Alex Heitman to include the various government agencies that have a possible connection to the events preceding and following his death.

We respectfully ask that you please acknowledge your receipt of this letter and give us the courtesy of indicating your intended course of action. Upon receipt of your reply, we would like to coordinate the release of the documentation we possess that verifies the statements made in this letter.   


Donnie & Annette Heitman


Wisconsin State Senator Luther Olsen
P.O. Box 7882,  Madison, WI 53707-7882
(608) 266-0751

Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield
2011 Flagler, Knoxville, TN 37912
(Represents the district of Alex’s former home in Knoxville)

Tennessee State Senator Randy McNally
94 Royal Troon Circle, Oak Ridge, TN 37830
Phone (865) 483-5544
(Represents the district of Alex’s former employer in Oak Ridge)

U.S. Senator for Wisconsin Ron Johnson
328 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5323

U.S. Sentator for Tennessee Lamar Alexander
455 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4944
Oak Ridge
Tennessee Congressman Chuck Fleischmann
200 Administration Rd. #100, Oak Ridge, TN 37830
Phone: (865) 576-1976        Fax: (865) 576-3221

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.