Thursday, July 23, 2015

Efforts to Silence Us

Since we first took our efforts public, we’ve encountered a number of obstacles. However, there are some that stand out as attempts to impede or silence us.  First there were denials by the local DA Dave Clark  and Oak Ridge Police Chief James Akagi of Alex’s participation as a witness in the prosecution of a check fraud scheme. Hundreds of pages of police reports and court documents would later reveal that Alex was the primary complainant who filed the initial police report with Chief Akagi’s department and received multiple subpoenas to testify in cooperation with DA Clark’s office in their prosecution of the individuals in question.

Then, there was a mystery audit that surfaced three years after Alex died. Though DA Clark said it cameback “clean,” (see Clark's exact words halfway down page 3) others (including CockeCounty officials) insinuated that Alex was guilty of something. Our requests for supporting documentation, including thisone from our attorney, have been ignored by Alex’s former employer. If he did something wrong, they should prove it. Otherwise, they’ve denigrated a dead man who cannot defend himself and leave us with no choice but to question their motives.

And most recently, in an apparent response to our television interview, a digital file alleged suicide note and other documents have surfaced. Three and a half years after Alex’s death, his widow presented an electronic file to Chief Akagi which she claimed was a suicide note. Neither Akagi nor DA Clark authenticated the file before releasing it to the press. Instead, both men along with Cocke County officials, held it up as if it were proof that Alex committed suicide. We had to hire a forensic analyst who determined that the note had been altered multiple times after Alex’s death and concluded that attribution of authorship to our son was fallacious.

We then urged Akagi and Clark to conduct an official analysis of the file and we offered to pay to have the computer forensically analyzed at no cost to the widow. She declined our offer and both Clark and Akagi have refused to take the steps necessary to legitimize the note.

When we were first informed of a note in late 2013, we were denied access to it. We were told that it was found “buried under a ton of files that Alex had opened up on the laptop. It appeared he did not want me to find it.” This claim seems like a physical contradiction.

We also don’t think the content of the note reads like something Alex would write, it contains no signature or closing and some of the phrasing sounds contrived, i.e., “I was just depressed and nothing I did helped cure this feeling.” However, it does specifically address us, his parents and other family members. If Alex did write it, then such a personal communication should have been released in full to the addressees first.  It is heartbreaking to have seen it released so carelessly to the press when it was withheld for years from those whom it was intended.

Finally, there have been contradicting statements made by those who found the note regarding when and where they found it. Statements have been documented that it was discovered just a few weeks after Alex’s death as well as the following year after his death. Ironically, had this note been presented to us when it was found and if it were legitimate, we likely would have never have gone down a path of questioning our son’s death. Given all of these facts, we cannot accept that this note was written by our son.

Released with the alleged suicide note were two receipts for purchases made the morning of Alex’s death. One of those receipts was for two boxes of ammunition. We now know that Alex also purchased ammunition the day before. If his intent was suicide, why  would he purchase additional ammunition the morning of his death if he’d just purchased shells that were never used? We also wonder why someone would take multiple boxes of ammunition when suicide requires a single bullet. To this day, all of the boxes of ammunition are missing and have never been returned to us by Cocke County.

A third receipt for a purchase made with Alex’s credit or debit card the morning of his death has not resurfaced as of yet. That receipt, found by Alex’s father and brother was for a diet coke and a cranberry juice. The fact that two shotguns and four boxes of shells were found at the scene and that there were two drinks purchased that morning caused our private investigator to question if Alex was alone that morning. We don’t know, but must consider all possibilities.

We’ve already shared here, there are numerous reasons we question the suicide ruling. We will not rehash those reasons other than to point out that no evidence has been produced to substantiate the claim that Alex killed himself. The medical examiner who made the suicide ruling never physically examined Alex’s body, crime scene photos show no blood at the scene, and because no ballistics or fingerprints were taken and no shell casing was retrieved, there is no way to match the bullet to the wound or the weapon to the bullet that killed Alex.

As has been shared, Alex was stressed over the uncertainty with his job given the odd request of his supervisor to come in on the day he was supposed to leave for vacation. We talked with him at great length the days  before his death. During those conversations, he shared his strategies for taking care of his family should something happen with his job and we let him know that we would help fill in any financial gaps. Even though he had concerns, Alex remained focused on his future as a new father and  on his next career moves.

We were exceptionally close to our son and maintained contact with him several times a week. Though we were living in different states, we visited with him three different times in the months preceding his death . We knew our son well. We recognize that as his parents, our emotional attachment can cloud objectivity. However, the reasons, and there are many, that we cannot accept his death as a suicide are purely fact-based. We respect those who chose to believe otherwise; however, that will not deter us from seeking answers and challenging misinformation. We ask those who may disagree with us to respect our position as we do yours and we thank the countless individuals who’ve been so tremendously supportive along the way, many of whom we’ve never met. God Bless you all.  

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