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Old 10-03-2011, 04:49 PM   #1
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Default Captain Mike O'Mara

I've searched through the forum and couldn't find a thread solely dedicated to the Mike O'Mara case. For those that don't remember, he was the police officer who left his home one evening to get frozen yogurt for his family and on the way went to go fill up his car at a service station (used by government employees & law enforcement). Shortly thereafter another officer pulled up and saw the abandoned car with the gas nozzle still in the tank, and then found O'Mara 75 feet away slumped over a rock, dead from a single gunshot wound to the head. Based off of the UM segment, it appears as though the investigating PD was deadset on ruling this a "suicide", yet O'mara's friends and family said he would never take his own life since he planned on retiring from the force shortly before he died. I'll elaborate more on this when I get the time, but for now what do you all think? Murder or suicide?
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:54 PM   #2
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I don't believe this was anything but murder. I doubt you will ever find another documented case of someone just randomly deciding to kill themselves while in the midst of filling up their car with gas! Not to mention that borrowing money from your wife to buy yogurt is a very strange thing to do if you're planning to commit suicide and never come back.

The police chief's rationale that O'Mara might have decided to deliberately commit suicide in a bizarre fashion in order to make people think it was a homicide sounded hella-weak to me. This whole thing definitely reeks of cover-up to me, though given that the brunt of O'Mara's big cases happened earlier in his career and he was spending his last few years working a quiet desk job, who knows what the motive was?

Last edited by RobinW; 10-03-2011 at 11:04 PM.
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Old 10-03-2011, 10:29 PM   #3
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If it was suicide, it was one hell of an elaborate scene.

I'm not sure he was murdered by mafia hitmen (although possible), but I think it was murder. My guess is that while he was filling his car with gas he saw or heard something pertaining to illegal activity. It could have been trespassers or a drug deal or something, but I don't buy the suicide explanation at all.

Really? Leave the gas hose in the car then walk out and shoot yourself? No way.
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Old 10-04-2011, 12:12 PM   #4
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The suicide theory seemed pretty silly to me, too. It's been a very long time since I have seen the segment. Was there anything mentioned about a shell casing being found?
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Old 10-04-2011, 12:27 PM   #5
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It's been years since I watched this case, so my thoughts here are just based on my vague recollections of the segment and some of the comments already posted which I have read.

Someone mentioned that O'Mara was contemplating retiring soon. Is it possible that O'Mara did intend to commit suicide, but was afraid that his family would not get his pension if his death was determined to be by his own hand? If that is the case, he would probably stage a murder or accident type scenario.

Just a thought.
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Old 10-04-2011, 04:53 PM   #6
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Ok, after some thought, I've decided that there are only three possible reasons/scenarios for O'Mara's unfortunate death. I'll try to nitpick each one the best that I can based off of what was on the UM segment and the few scattered articles over the internet.

Scenario# 1: Accidental death. O'Mara's activities before leaving the house (eating dinner with his family, borrowing cash to go buy frozen yogurt for desert, and filling up his car with gas) give every indication that he planned on coming back that night. I suppose it's possible that O'Mara went to the service station to fill his car up, saw or heard something that he thought was suspicious, grabbed his gun and a flashlight and then went to investigate. While walking, he somehow slips and his gun discharges shooting him in the head, and he falls down on the rock dead.

There are several problems with this scenario. For one, the gun was said to have been held 2-4 inches away from O'Mara's head when it was fired. I can't see how, in the process of slipping and falling, O'Mara's gun would have been able to shoot him precisely in the middle of the head. Not to mention that his body was found slumped over a rock, which also makes the "accident" theory less likely. I know there is no "set way" for a body to fall after being shot, but for both of these things to have happened just seems close to impossible. I've also read online that O'Mara was adamantly against using or carrying guns. So what exactly could O'Mara have seen/heard that night to cause him to grab his gun and flashlight to go investigate? It was nighttime, behind a courthouse, in a county service station that was used by police officers and county workers. If O'Mara heard a noise in this location would he really have been so quick to grab his gun and go check it out? And what exactly could he have seen to make him grab a gun and flashlight?

Scenario #2: Murder. UM portrayed O'Mara as a tough as nails, by the book cop who cracked down on corruption and organized crime in Cook County, Illionois. Some of O'Mara's co-workers theorized that he may have busted one one of these criminals who held a grudge and wanted him dead. There was also talks of rampant police corruption (accepting payoffs from these crime figures), and its alleged to have been at its peak around the same time O'Mara was killed. So the theory is that O'Mara found out about a fellow officer taking bribes/payoffs from one of these mobsters, and he was killed to be silenced by someone in the police department. (There's a lengthy article that goes into detail about the police corruption and O'Mara's death here: http://www.ipsn.org/omara.php) O'Mara's family and friends all contend that he was not suicidal and that he was making plans for his future after his eventual retirement. Plus, as mentioned above O'Mara borrowed money from his wife for frozen yogurt before he left, giving every indication he was going to return. Also, the medical examiner that O'Mara's wife hired to review the coroner's report stated that he had several bruises on his face, as if he was beat before he was shot. This could not have happened unless he was murdered.

There are problems with the murder theory as well. Other than O'Mara's wife, who would have known where he was going that evening? What if O'Mara simply went to a busy grocery store and then right back home? Would the killer/s really have had the time to overtake him and then kill him without being seen by anyone? And just how lucky are these killers for O'Mara to pick such a remote, abandoned place like a service station used by police officers? Unless of course we are to believe that a police officer was involved in his murder. But that doesn't explain the one eyewitness (mentioned in the article I posted a link to above) who said he saw a "dark car" pull up to the gas pump and then shortly after going inside his home he heard a gunshot. This eyewitness makes no mention of seeing anyone else, hearing anyone else, or seeing any other cars in the parking lot behind the courthouse. If he were the target of a hit, his killer/s certainly wouldn't have been on foot that night. Also, if O'Mara saw/heard something that spooked him, just how easy would it have been for someone to overtake him since he was armed? Let's say O'Mara was surprised by someone or a group of people who were possibly armed. How did they get the drop on him? And if their plan was to make his death look like a suicide, why did they allegedly beat the crap out of him before they shot him? And how would they have been able to wrestle the gun away from O'Mara, subdue him, then shoot him without leaving behind any physical evidence nor any evidence that a struggle even happened? The parking lot and area that O'Mara's body was found it was described as "well lit", so how would someone have been able to surprise him anyway? The investigating officers also stated that there was simply no evidence that any other person was there in the field with O'Mara that night, which also hurts the murder theory. Finally, that web article mentions that O'Mara first went to his offices (where he had a side business, running a private security firm) and stayed there for about a half an hour. Why wasn't he killed there? The article also mentions that he notified a police dispatcher that he was on duty shortly after he left his office around 8:30 p.m. (The article states that every Cook County police officer assigned to a "permanent squad" was required to advise a dispatch that he was on duty, I'm guessing anytime they were armed.) While it's possible that a fellow police officer who wanted O'Mara dead for whatever reason heard this dispatch, that wouldn't make any sense if his death was a planned hit. What luck is it for whomever wanting him dead to A. hear the dispatch or learn about it, B. high tail it to the service station or be that close in proximity to make it there before O'Mara did, and C. get the drop on him, murder him, stage the scene and cover it up without leaving any trace evidence behind or being seen by anyone?

That's it for now, I'll get into scenario #3 (suicide) later...
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Old 10-04-2011, 07:42 PM   #7
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Continued...

Scenario #3: Suicide. The police theorized in the UM segment that O'Mara committed suicide and made it look like a murder by staging this elaborate scene of going to get gas, holding the gun away from his head, etc. because he was depressed for unknown reasons. They also came to the conclusion of suicide because there just was no evidence whatsoever that any other person was in that area (besides O'Mara himself) when he is alleged to have killed himself. And two different coroner's reports both concluded that the result of O'Mara's death was a suicide.

Again, there are holes in this scenario as well. First we have the relatives and friends of O'Mara. His wife would know if he was depressed or feeling down, and she says that the last time she saw him he borrowed the money for yogurt and everything seemed perfectly routine and normal. Other relatives have stated he had plans for his retirement and his possible relocation to Florida. Others have stated that he had plans on becoming a police chief in a nearby jurisdiction someday. Not one single person that actually knew O'Mara had any indication that anything was amiss. I do know that suicidal people can be highly unpredictable, yet there was not one person who came forward and said O'Mara was "unhappy", "aloof", or "depressed". Everyone described him as happy, content, and looking forward to retirement. Not exactly the way you would describe a suicidal person. Also, we have the odd nature in which he would have had to have positioned the gun to kill himself. He would have had to have used two hands to point the gun towards his forehead and have used his thumb/s to squeeze the trigger. A very odd position for someone to use who's about to kill themselves. Another small but important clue is the fact that he brought his flashlight with him. Why is this necessary? He already had his car parked at a gas pump, and if his intent was to make it look like a homicide, would he really be that quick minded to remember to bring his flashlight along to make it look like he was "investigating" something? That doesn't really make any sense. And who actually would tell their loved ones they'd be back with yogurt if they planned on killing themselves all along? And if we are to believe suicide, how do we account for the bruises on O'Mara's face?

IMHO, there are inconsistencies in every theory. And I honestly don't believe we'll ever know 100% what happened that fateful night. On the surface, after watching UM almost instantly you think he was murdered. Hell, so did I. But after reading that article I wasn't so sure anymore. It just seems way too risky for someone to jump him and murder him at a service station that was frequented by police officers. What would have happened if an officer pulled up in the middle of his murder? There certainly were better opportunities (like when he was alone at his office at his private security firm before he went to the service station), and if the murderers intended to make it look like a suicide they did one hell of a sloppy job by shooting him in an awkward place. Unless of course we are to believe that every police officer was in on this, which I find highly unlikely. If one of their own were truely murdered, don't you think that would be priority #1 by finding his killer? Even if there was massive corruption going on in Cook County law enforcement, not everyone would have been corrupt. I'm sure others would have spoke out by now, especially if this hit was carried out by a low level criminal on the mob circuit. People talk. There's also the possibility that he was actually killed by a fellow police officer, but that doesn't really hold water either. By 1988, O'Mara was on desk duty. How could an officer on desk duty find out about some massive conspiracy? Not saying it's not impossible, just highly unlikely. And O'Mara was with the CCPD for 27 years, don't you think he would have uncovered this corruption sooner?

So what do I think happened? I honestly think O'Mara took his own life. People who are contemplating suicide are almost never rational in their thought process. And a lot of times, their relatives and loved ones never see it coming. I think that was the case here. I think O'Mara put up a front with his family and friends to try and hide some type of depression building inside of him. What caused the depression? I can only speculate. It may have been the fact that after 20 some years of excellent service in law enforcement (his by the book breaking up Cook County corruption not only earned him the respect of his colleagues but also the "hoods" that were involved in criminal activity) being relegated to desk duty was too much for him. Or perhaps his private security firm was faltering and he was losing money. He had planned on shutting the firm down due to "financial reversals and personal reasons" shortly before he died. IMO, I think O'Mara was depressed about one or both (or something unrelated that we know nothing about) of these things. I think it was slowly building up in him over time. I do not think he had planned on taking his life when he left for frozen yogurt that night. However, he did make a stop to his offices at his security firm. What he was doing there, I don't know. But let's just say he made a discovery that he lost more money than he thought, or he discovered a financial "blunder" so to speak. This sets him over the edge. He radios in to the dispatch that he is on duty, possibly even saying where he intended to go. He knows that if he kills himself, his family won't receive his pension benefits. The pension would have been the quickest solution to the financial problems he's having. So he figures if he kills himself he has to make it look like a murder. I believe this is why he chose the service station, and why the appearance of "getting gas" and "investigating" was concocted. I think he chose the service station because he knew it would be isolated at that time of night, and also figured the odds were high that a police officer would have discovered his body. I also believe this is why he positioned the gun at such an awkward angle, he was trying to make it look like a murder.

None of us know for certain what was going in O'Mara's mind that night. And I also know that each possible scenario involving O'Mara's death has unexplainable holes. But in all probability, I think he was facing a debt or financial burden, and the only way out of that was to kill himself but to do so to make it look like a murder so his family would have received his pension. I think this case is very similiar to the Ed Baker case. The evidence for murder just wasn't there. Sure there were some nice conspiracy plots bantered around, but there was no concrete physical evidence tying anyone to the crimce scene, nor was there any indication that anyone besides O'Mara was at the crime scene that night. And until there is new evidence brought to light (besides hearsay) to support murder, I don't think we can call this anything other than suicide.
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Old 11-18-2011, 07:48 PM   #8
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Any new thoughts/updates on this case?
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:08 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCars1986
Continued...

Scenario #3: Suicide. The police theorized in the UM segment that O'Mara committed suicide and made it look like a murder by staging this elaborate scene of going to get gas, holding the gun away from his head, etc. because he was depressed for unknown reasons. They also came to the conclusion of suicide because there just was no evidence whatsoever that any other person was in that area (besides O'Mara himself) when he is alleged to have killed himself. And two different coroner's reports both concluded that the result of O'Mara's death was a suicide.

Again, there are holes in this scenario as well. First we have the relatives and friends of O'Mara. His wife would know if he was depressed or feeling down, and she says that the last time she saw him he borrowed the money for yogurt and everything seemed perfectly routine and normal. Other relatives have stated he had plans for his retirement and his possible relocation to Florida. Others have stated that he had plans on becoming a police chief in a nearby jurisdiction someday. Not one single person that actually knew O'Mara had any indication that anything was amiss. I do know that suicidal people can be highly unpredictable, yet there was not one person who came forward and said O'Mara was "unhappy", "aloof", or "depressed". Everyone described him as happy, content, and looking forward to retirement. Not exactly the way you would describe a suicidal person. Also, we have the odd nature in which he would have had to have positioned the gun to kill himself. He would have had to have used two hands to point the gun towards his forehead and have used his thumb/s to squeeze the trigger. A very odd position for someone to use who's about to kill themselves. Another small but important clue is the fact that he brought his flashlight with him. Why is this necessary? He already had his car parked at a gas pump, and if his intent was to make it look like a homicide, would he really be that quick minded to remember to bring his flashlight along to make it look like he was "investigating" something? That doesn't really make any sense. And who actually would tell their loved ones they'd be back with yogurt if they planned on killing themselves all along? And if we are to believe suicide, how do we account for the bruises on O'Mara's face?

IMHO, there are inconsistencies in every theory. And I honestly don't believe we'll ever know 100% what happened that fateful night. On the surface, after watching UM almost instantly you think he was murdered. Hell, so did I. But after reading that article I wasn't so sure anymore. It just seems way too risky for someone to jump him and murder him at a service station that was frequented by police officers. What would have happened if an officer pulled up in the middle of his murder? There certainly were better opportunities (like when he was alone at his office at his private security firm before he went to the service station), and if the murderers intended to make it look like a suicide they did one hell of a sloppy job by shooting him in an awkward place. Unless of course we are to believe that every police officer was in on this, which I find highly unlikely. If one of their own were truely murdered, don't you think that would be priority #1 by finding his killer? Even if there was massive corruption going on in Cook County law enforcement, not everyone would have been corrupt. I'm sure others would have spoke out by now, especially if this hit was carried out by a low level criminal on the mob circuit. People talk. There's also the possibility that he was actually killed by a fellow police officer, but that doesn't really hold water either. By 1988, O'Mara was on desk duty. How could an officer on desk duty find out about some massive conspiracy? Not saying it's not impossible, just highly unlikely. And O'Mara was with the CCPD for 27 years, don't you think he would have uncovered this corruption sooner?

So what do I think happened? I honestly think O'Mara took his own life. People who are contemplating suicide are almost never rational in their thought process. And a lot of times, their relatives and loved ones never see it coming. I think that was the case here. I think O'Mara put up a front with his family and friends to try and hide some type of depression building inside of him. What caused the depression? I can only speculate. It may have been the fact that after 20 some years of excellent service in law enforcement (his by the book breaking up Cook County corruption not only earned him the respect of his colleagues but also the "hoods" that were involved in criminal activity) being relegated to desk duty was too much for him. Or perhaps his private security firm was faltering and he was losing money. He had planned on shutting the firm down due to "financial reversals and personal reasons" shortly before he died. IMO, I think O'Mara was depressed about one or both (or something unrelated that we know nothing about) of these things. I think it was slowly building up in him over time. I do not think he had planned on taking his life when he left for frozen yogurt that night. However, he did make a stop to his offices at his security firm. What he was doing there, I don't know. But let's just say he made a discovery that he lost more money than he thought, or he discovered a financial "blunder" so to speak. This sets him over the edge. He radios in to the dispatch that he is on duty, possibly even saying where he intended to go. He knows that if he kills himself, his family won't receive his pension benefits. The pension would have been the quickest solution to the financial problems he's having. So he figures if he kills himself he has to make it look like a murder. I believe this is why he chose the service station, and why the appearance of "getting gas" and "investigating" was concocted. I think he chose the service station because he knew it would be isolated at that time of night, and also figured the odds were high that a police officer would have discovered his body. I also believe this is why he positioned the gun at such an awkward angle, he was trying to make it look like a murder.

None of us know for certain what was going in O'Mara's mind that night. And I also know that each possible scenario involving O'Mara's death has unexplainable holes. But in all probability, I think he was facing a debt or financial burden, and the only way out of that was to kill himself but to do so to make it look like a murder so his family would have received his pension. I think this case is very similiar to the Ed Baker case. The evidence for murder just wasn't there. Sure there were some nice conspiracy plots bantered around, but there was no concrete physical evidence tying anyone to the crimce scene, nor was there any indication that anyone besides O'Mara was at the crime scene that night. And until there is new evidence brought to light (besides hearsay) to support murder, I don't think we can call this anything other than suicide.
That's what I was thinking too. Very well thought out response. The fact is, all actions that night point toward a man who was trying to cover up his own suicide in an attempt to make it look like murder. The car pulling up is an unexplainable oddity, but I'm not sure what that really means. Also, I just can't imagine an officer of his experience being taken out so easily, without any signs of a struggle or screams. Lastly, the investigator noted he had no financial problems, but that is a subjective argument. Some think their own financial problems are worse than they really are. You showed that his personal business was losing money and even had a quote of him alluding to that. In truth, I doubt he and his wife communicated all that much, which was typical then of working class couples.
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Old 07-09-2012, 01:16 PM   #10
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There were powder burns on his hands, guys. Moreover, he knew how to commit suicide and make it look like a homicide. If i had to bet, he wanted to end it all and make sure his wife got his life insurance money, so he did it this way. Besides, if it was the mob, in fact if it were anyone, how would they have been able to use his own gun in the way they did? Not buying murder here...
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Old 01-31-2013, 06:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stackfan
There were powder burns on his hands, guys. Moreover, he knew how to commit suicide and make it look like a homicide. If i had to bet, he wanted to end it all and make sure his wife got his life insurance money, so he did it this way. Besides, if it was the mob, in fact if it were anyone, how would they have been able to use his own gun in the way they did? Not buying murder here...
This.
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:14 AM   #12
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Quote:
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There were powder burns on his hands, guys. Moreover, he knew how to commit suicide and make it look like a homicide. If i had to bet, he wanted to end it all and make sure his wife got his life insurance money, so he did it this way. Besides, if it was the mob, in fact if it were anyone, how would they have been able to use his own gun in the way they did? Not buying murder here...
That proves he fired a weapon. It does not prove he committed suicide.

In fact, Dr. DiMaio explained that O'Mara didn't have a contact gunshot wound to his head, whereas in the vast majority of suicides-by-handgun, the end of the barrel is held directly against the skin, or placed inside the mouth.

Also, why take a flashlight with you to a field you probably know pretty well (given you fill your duty vehicle next to it on a very frequent basis) if you're just going out there to kill yourself? That indicates to me he might have been looking for something or someone.

I think Mike O'Mara met nearly the same fate as Ralph Probst--another Cook County Sheriff's Deputy who was a pain in the rear for local organized crime, especially those involved in racketeering. O'Mara made an entire career taking those people down. I think O'Mara did not commit suicide, and I think his death might be related to Probst's.
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:28 AM   #13
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This is a really, really informative article:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1...rtment-recalls

Also, I found this extremely interesting:

"The fatal bullet was never found. So there was no way to know for sure it came from O'Mara's gun, which had one round missing."
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:21 PM   #14
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As to stackfan's idea that O'Mara killed himself in order to ensure his wife received insurance money:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1...rance-benefits

Mrs. O'Mara would've received no insurance benefits under those circumstances, as is the case with many life insurance policies.

Also from the article, emphasis my own:

The sheriff`s department was able to collect little physical evidence that night. The bullet, which had passed through O`Mara`s body, was never found, preventing a determination as to whether it had come from O`Mara`s gun. Moreover, tests did not conclude whether O`Mara had held and fired his own service revolver. Investigators said the fingerprints on the weapon were too poor to match and that there were insufficient quantities of chemicals on his hand to indicate he had fired a weapon.

``We have no conclusive evidence that his gun was the weapon,``

Undersheriff Bernard said.

Sheriff`s police never checked O`Mara`s police car for fingerprints, Bernard added. Although it was parked about 50 feet from where O`Mara`s body was found, Bernard said, it ``was not part of the crime scene.``


Someone killed Mike O'Mara in that field that night, and it looks a lot like there was an attempt at a coverup by the investigators. I don't doubt that in the least.
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:07 PM   #15
QuenSolen
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I agree with Meg.

TheCars1986, you questioned why else he would choose that remote service station but to kill himself. I believe it's possible he chose that location to meet somebody. An informant of some kind would most likely want to meet at a remote area such as that. Just because Captain O'Mara was behind a desk and close to retirement doesn't mean he couldn't have stumbled onto something.

I admit having the nozzle in the tank still doesn't quite fit...unless he was taken by surprise. If he was meeting an informant he would have his gun on his person/at the ready, so perhaps the gun was taken by force. Since he had powder burns perhaps it went off in a struggle.

I just find it hard to believe that if it was suicide he: 1. Had shown no outward signs of being depressed or unhappy. 2. Chose a night when he would've been expected home with a treat for the family. 3. Set up the scene so that it DIDN'T look like a clear cut case of murder and allowed speculation on suicide. As a cop surely he would have the experience to set up the scene better.
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Last edited by QuenSolen; 08-15-2013 at 08:06 PM.
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