Saturday, July 26, 2014

Open Records Assistance Request of TCOG

We are slowly but surely making progress with some of our requests. We submitted this letter to the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government ( soliciting help to gain access to those files which are still being kept from us. Thank you again to all who have continued to support us by sharing our story with others. 

Ms. Fisher,

We are appealing to you for assistance in gaining access to open records from multiple East Tennessee government agencies who have been uncooperative. For the past three years, we have attempted to retrieve records that pertain to the circumstances surrounding the death of our son, Alexander Heitman. You can read more about those circumstances and our difficulties in our April letter to the FBI here.

Please review the following and advise if you are able to assist us. We thank you in advance for any help or guidance you can provide.

Don and Annette Heitman

Anderson County Clerk/Oak Ridge Police Department
In the weeks and months preceding his death, Alex was cooperating with an investigation involving a fraudulent check cashing scheme perpetrated on the school system bank account and involving a number of local meth addicts. We have requested information surrounding the outcomes of those investigations and have been misled by the local DA and Chief of Police. The most recent communication we have received is from their clerk, Tyler Mayes.  As you can see, initially he indicated that he would be “happy to let us review the files and take copies.” Subsequently, however, he changed his tune and is denying that he possesses most of what we are seeking.

Oak Ridge Schools (Alex’s employer)
As discussed here, Alex was working on a number of internal anti-fraud initiatives. The day he died, he was supposed to be on vacation. However, one of his supervisors, Superintendent Tom Bailey, insisted that he delay his travel plans and come into the office that morning for a meeting.  

Mr. Bailey has stated that Alex never made it to that meeting; however, personal phone text messages between Alex and his wife indicate that he did arrive at the school administration building just prior to their scheduled meeting.

In order to determine what occurred that morning, we are seeking a handful of files from the Oak Ridge Schools. As you can read here, we have been denied access to these records based on our residency. We’ve also been told by their attorney that should we recruit the assistance of a Tennessee resident, they will be charged a minimum of $2,000 for the files we are requesting.

Furthermore, the Oak Ridge Schools just recently released an audit that could be interpreted as an indictment against Alex. We are seeking the supporting documentation of the claims made.

Cocke County (the place Alex’s body was found)
Though they have finally provided us with some of the documents we have requested, as you can see in the attached file, Cocke County is still refusing us access to critical documents that may hold answers to what happened to our son. To date, we are still seeking the following:

a. Documentation that indicates who made the determination of suicide along with the basis for that determination. We are told that we have received this, but we have not. If they are referring to the autopsy, nowhere on it does it state that the cause of death was suicide. What’s more, the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy (Steven Cogswell) is not the doctor who signed the death certificate and presumably checked the “suicide” box. That was David H. McConnell of Cocke County.

b. Ballistics and fingerprints – Cocke County Detective Robert Caldwell originally led to believe that these activities were performed as part of a full investigation.

c. Coroner’s Report – Coroner Terry Jarnigan arrived on the scene of our son’s death and appears to have accompanied his body to the local hospital and filled out a number of documents. Given this missing document and Mr. Jarnigan’s history, we have concerns about his role in the activities following the discovery of Alex’s body.

d. Crime Scene Photos: Though were told that we were provided with them all, it is clear that were not. (See details in our FBI letter) We would like to obtain copies of the actual SD card from the camera that was used.

e. 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. 

f. Documentation verifying who identified our son’s body. None of the documents they provided name a witness or provide any type of signature. Our request is for actual the documentation signed by the individual who identified our son.

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