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  1. #1
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    FL - Michelle O'Connell, 24, St Augustine, 2 September, 2010



    Maybe not technically a cold case, but justice not done, IMO. Excellent feature article about this very sad story:

    http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/two-gunshots/

    At 11:25 p.m., the three St. Johns County officers arrived at 4700 Sherlock Place, a one-story suburban house in this historic seaside community. A young deputy, Jonathan Hawley, was already there. “Oh my God,” he cried, seeing a young woman he knew lying on the bedroom floor, an inert, bloody mess.

    Michelle O’Connell, 24, the doting mother of a 4-year-old girl, was dying from a gunshot in the mouth. Next to her was a semiautomatic pistol that belonged to her boyfriend, Jeremy Banks, a deputy sheriff for St. Johns County. A second bullet had burrowed into the carpet by her right arm...

    Within minutes of the shooting on Sept. 2, 2010, Mr. Banks’s friends, family and even off-duty colleagues began showing up, offering hugs and moral support. He huddled with his stepfather, a deputy sheriff in another county, before a detective interviewed him in a police car...

    Ms. O’Connell’s family, immediately suspicious, received a starkly different reception from the authorities. Less than two hours before she died, Ms. O’Connell had texted her sister, who was watching her daughter: “I’ll be there soon.” Yet when her outraged brother tried to visit the scene, officers blocked his way. The family’s request for an independent investigation was rebuffed, as was one sister’s attempt to tell the police that in the months before she died, Ms. O’Connell said she had been subjected to domestic abuse by Mr. Banks...

    Ms. O’Connell, the sheriff’s office concluded, took her own life. Detectives were so certain in their judgment that they never tested the forensic evidence collected after the shooting. Nor did they interview her family and friends, who would have told them that she was ecstatic over a new full-time job with benefits, including health insurance for her daughter.
    http://mayportmirror.jacksonville.co...t-johns-deputy

    As the sign of a supporter at Tuesday’s rally/news conference stated, the O’Connell family is not going away. That was the message conveyed at a media event in front of the St. Johns County courthouse complex.

    Armed with a letter to State Attorney R.J. Larizza and a new witness statement, several members of Michelle O’Connell’s family and other friends continued to demand a coroner’s inquest of her death.

    “Four years ago, Michelle lost her life; it was taken,” sister Jennifer O’Connell said Tuesday. “We’re asking State Attorney Larizza to please order a coroner’s inquest and follow through with the recommendation of FDLE that says the manner of death was consistent with homicide more so than suicide.”
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/witness-eme...ry?id=25227390

    On Tuesday, a witness statement by former bar owner Danny Harmon was introduced. Harmon says Banks came to his bar – the Ring of Fire – the night after O’Connell died, making suggestive remarks about her.

    “He told me that all she ever did was put him down and make him feel bad about himself,” Harmon said. “He was going to be moving on with his life, and he wasn’t going to let the [explicative] hold him back anymore.”

    In a sworn affidavit, Harmon stated that he believes that Banks had something to do with O’Connell’s death.

  2. #2
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    The Florida governor has signed an executive order to reopen the investigation.

    Scott's executive order stated that State Attorney R.J. Larizza, who has excused himself to avoid the appearance of impropriety, "received an affidavit from a potential witness regarding the death of Michelle O'Connell."

    The review comes after a new potential witness came forward. Action News spoke with Danny Harmon last month. He's a former bartender who said he heard Banks talking about O'Connell's death.

    "He just said 'the f****** b**** deserves what she got,'" Harmon said in September.

    In the past year, the investigation into O'Connell's death has been the subject of national media coverage from outlets such as The New York Times, CNN, "Dateline," "Good Morning America" and "PBS Frontline." - See more at: http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/ne....1BtpYIK7.dpuf
    http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/ne...igate-m/nhbhY/

  3. #3
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    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/04/us...d-in-2010.html

    Last November, the case was the subject of a lengthy examination by The New York Times, in collaboration with the PBS investigative news program “Frontline.” That examination found serious shortcomings in the sheriff’s department’s handling of the case involving its own deputy, while also casting light on the problem of domestic violence involving police officers.

    In the months since the article was published, 184,000 people have signed an online petition calling for a coroner’s inquest into the case...

    The case lay dormant until The Times and ”Frontline” raised questions about several issues of forensic evidence, including whether a cut above her right eye was a defensive wound, a possible sign of a struggle before the fatal shot. The medical examiners said the wound resulted from the gun recoiling forward as Ms. O’Connell shot herself in the mouth with the gun upside down.

  4. #4
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    How terrible! I hope if this man did it, he gets charged! It sure seems with an extra shot in her arm, that it wasn't a suicide.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hippiemomof5 View Post
    How terrible! I hope if this man did it, he gets charged! It sure seems with an extra shot in her arm, that it wasn't a suicide.
    Hi Hippiemom5-

    The other shot was not in Michelle's arm it was in the floor. The theory behind this was....Michelle was testing the gun to be sure it worked before she committed suicide with it. So she "test fired" it into the floor. Then she turned the gun UPSIDE DOWN and shot herself in the mouth, at which time the gun recoiled IN A FORWARD motion causing the cut above her eye (because that cut certainly couldn't have been caused by Jeremy, even though he enjoyed putting his hands on her). Her DNA was found on the gun but (surprise!) Jeremy's was not, even though it was his service weapon. Sounds plausible, huh?

    This case enrages me. Everything, EVERYTHING about it stinks.

    Yes, he deserves to be charged. And so does everyone else who have ACTIVELY covered up for him, particularly a certain sheriff, IMO. You should watch the "Frontline" episode about this case (it's online on the PBS site).

    I'm furious for Michelle and her family.

  6. #6
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    Oh, gotcha. I misunderstood that part. I want to go back and read further. It certainly doesn't sound cut and dry as a suicide to me.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hippiemomof5 View Post
    Oh, gotcha. I misunderstood that part. I want to go back and read further. It certainly doesn't sound cut and dry as a suicide to me.
    Please keep reading and watching (esp. the NY Times article and the Frontline episode). I've signed petitions, written letters, the only thing I can think to do for Michelle is to make more people aware of the case.

    While I want to see Jeremy tried for her (IMO) murder, I REALLY want to see the people who continue to cover up and lie (IMO) about her case tried and punished.

    The good ol' boy system is alive and well. I'm determined to see it doesn't win this time.

  8. #8
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    http://staugustine.com/news/local-ne...e#.VFelvigqWAA

    Having already appeared on several news magazine television shows, including “Frontline,” the next stop is “Dr. Phil.” The subject of O’Connell’s death and the subsequent investigations will be the subject of today’s show...

    Promoting the episode, the Dr. Phil publicity department describes the show as: “The Mystery of Michelle O’Connell: A Family Divided. Dr. Phil delves into the shooting death of 24-year-old Michelle O’Connell, which has left the young mother’s family divided — and prompted the governor of Florida to recently order the case reopened. Did she take her own life, as authorities concluded, or was she a victim of homicide?”

  9. #9
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    Just watched this tonight on Frontline (on Netflix) and several things stood out.
    1) The 911 call. He starts out with his voice high and panicked (as one would expect) but seems to recall and give the address fluently, without any difficulty. From personal experience, that seems odd. And then, when the dispatcher calls him "Ma'am" -- he voice immediately changes, gets deeper, more coherent, he demands to be called sir, he ID's himself as a sheriff deputy, says "I'm one of ya'll" He never asked for help for Michelle.
    2) The woman deputy, one of the first responders, said he was angry, not sad. He was growling.
    3) His gun, the one that killed Michelle, did not have his DNA or fingerprints on it. It didn't have any of her blood on it either. It was obviously wiped after the shooting.
    4) Michelle's text messages that evening gave me pause -- they sounded like a woman expecting to die very soon. At first, it seemed like suicidal thoughts -- but perhaps she was genuinely fearing for her life.
    5) What was with the prescription meds being at the top of her purse -- Jeremy's meds, no less? That reminded me so much of the Jennifer Ramsaran case, when the guilty husband tried to insinuate his missing wife was abusing drugs -- but just like Michelle, no drugs were found in her system.
    6) The testimony of the neighbor ladies seems damning. But...also odd that they wouldn't have call 911 themselves when they heard shouts for help and gunshots.
    7) The bartender testimony that has more recently come to light is also damning.
    8) The position of the gun and the shells and bloodsplatter, etc. all seem inconsistent with suicide.

  10. #10
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    Has anyone else noticed that Jeff Ashton (!) is the Special Prosecutor appointed in the new investigation of this case? Is this THE Jeff Ashton from the Casey Anthony trial? I watched the Frontline about this case today, and I'm eager to hear Jeff Ashton's take on the evidence.

    I don't want to repeat what has already been said, so I'll try to limit myself to fresh information. I don't think anyone has noted that women do not often use a gun in suicides due to the fact that the tend to preserve their appearance, even in death. I think women might be more inclined to use medication or poison. Also, the pill bottles in the purse and the pills in her pocket were HINKY! If you've got pills, and you've got a gun, which do you use first? The pills! That way, you are somewhat anesthetized. How are you going to take pills after you shot yourself? I understand it could be a plan "B" for someone lacking the courage to shoot themself, but why not use them, then? This looks like a very amateur, "See...? More suicide stuff" bit of staging by the boyfriend.

    I was prepared to accept the suicide explanation due to the strange texts, but I am now convinced it was her anticipation of more domestic violence, after hearing all of the newer evidence from the family and neighbors.

    The change in the boyfriend's voice during the 911 call was textbook wrong per statement analysis. It was the worst, hammiest acting, ever, that he turned off like a switch. Also, his banter with his supervisor was wildly inappropriate to the situation, when she gave him the most softball interview in the history of police investigation.

    I am so outraged for this family due to how they have been treated by local law enforcement. It was a complete travesty of justice, and I am really hopeful that this case will be prosecuted by Jeff Ashton. I'd love to see him in action again.

    We need more sleuthers on this case.
    Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.
    -Henry Van Dyke


  11. #11
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    I watched the Dateline episode of this case. I would like to watch Frontline too (hopefully the PBS website will work for me since I'm outside of the US!)

    I also agree that there are things about Michelle's death that don't make sense to me and I'm very happy to hear that the Florida governer has signed an executive order to re-open the investigation.

    Another thing to add that I don't think you guys have mentioned - one of the police that was first on the scene said JB smelt slightly of soap, like he had taken a shower or had washed his hands. He denied it, but his gun was clean.

    The pills were interesting because her autopsy showed she hadn't ingested any, yet she had an entire pocketful. It's very weird.

    The gun being left handed when she was right handed, and JB being the only left handed person in the house.

    I've also heard something about the position of her tongue too. Apparently in suicides tongues are down, but Michelle's was up, which they think means she was screaming when she was shot (makes it all the more terrifying and horrible)

    Her text messages read like she didn't know what was going to happen to her and she was worried about her safety because of their relationship being an abusive one and she was a smart woman, she knew that leaving an abusive man is an extremely dangerous time for a woman. They don't read like she was going to take her own life. I believe a suicidal woman would've implied it more, like, "My time is up/ I can't take it anymore. Please take care of L" or something along those lines, not "Whatever/If something happens to me, take care of L"

    Those stories from the bartender are very scary and shows the type of person JB is.

    I don't believe this was suicide.

  12. #12
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    Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and it is not the cheese. Shouldn't there be more scrutiny of Mr Banks?

    It does not seem like Michelle was ready to leave this earth, based on the facts.

  13. #13
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    http://historiccity.com/2015/staugus...-located-51470

    The family of Michelle O’Connell informed Historic City News reporters that, during their continued search for the truth, they have uncovered the previously “missing” amendment to the Florida Death Certificate, prepared by the District 23 Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy on Michelle...

    Just 15 days after Dr. Bulic was hired, on June 7, 2011, Frederick Hobin, M.D., A.M.E., executed an amendment to his original death certificate in the Michelle O’Connell case, based on “additional information discovered as a result of extended investigation”... Hobin found that the manner of death was not suicide, but homicide. He also found that the cause of death was actually a gunshot injury to the spine, caused by another person.

    Four months later, on October 11, 2011, Dr. Bulic reports that Dr. Hobin should not have been released the amended death certificate and he said the change in manner and cause of death “amounted to a clerical error.”

  14. #14
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    I just finished watching the Frontline special on Netflix. I had not heard of the case before watching the show.

    I feel very strongly that Michelle was murdered. The only thing that was slightly confusing to me were the texts about taking care of her daughter, until I realized she was scared that JB might kill her when she broke up with him that night. If they were suicidal texts, they probably would've contained the phrase "I'm sorry" or some expression of regret. (JMO as someone who's struggled with depression/suicidal thoughts for a lifetime.) Her daughter was obviously her life, so she wanted to make sure that she would be loved and protected if anything happened to her IMO.

    Given my opinion stated above, I was disappointed when I started Googling for news and found this article from July of this year:

    No change in Michelle O'Connell case

    An investigator working for Ashton concluded this month that unless someone confesses to killing O’Connell, “this case will never reach the level of being suitable and/or presentable for prosecution.”
    Last edited by mayqueen; 11-08-2015 at 05:00 PM. Reason: formatting
    Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” --Dalai Lama XIV

  15. #15
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    This is from August. I'm still reading, but wanted to drop the links here before I forget.

    New documents revealed in Michelle O'Connell's death

    Along the way a Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent was called in to investigate. But now News4Jax has learned that the state attorney has determined that the FDLE agent acted inappropriately as he looked into the case, but did nothing criminal.

    A lengthy report on FDLE agent Rusty Rodgers’ actions was just released and the report said Rodgers conducted the investigation with preconceived notions that this was a homicide which excerpts from the report show.
    Link to the above-mentioned investigative report (BBM#2): http://www.news4jax.com/blob/view/-/...-documents.pdf
    Last edited by mayqueen; 11-08-2015 at 05:30 PM.
    Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” --Dalai Lama XIV

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