Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Mother Deserves Truth about Death

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Mother Deserves Truth about Death

Article excerpt

I'm rooting for Kelly Osborn. A lot of us are. She deserves the truth about her daughter's death.

Maybe she already has it. But she doesn't think so.

Bradenton Beach police say Osborn's daughter, Sheena Morris, 22, hanged herself in a hotel room shower stall on New Year's Day 2009. Case closed.

Osborn insists that the circumstances surrounding Sheena's death do not point to suicide, but rather to murder disguised as suicide. For three years, she has demanded a more thorough investigation.

Now, a series of articles starting July 29 in the Herald-Tribune have raised legitimate questions in the public's mind and drawn more attention to Osborn's plight.

Survivors of suicide victims are often caught by surprise when loved friends or family members kill themselves. For whatever reason, they missed the telltale signs.

It would be easy to dismiss Osborn as a mother in self-denial, ridden by guilt, striking out at the police only because their conclusions do not match the image she created of her daughter.

As it turns out, Osborn's single-minded devotion to her daughter's memory has begun to counter the scenario put forward by the police.

Perhaps the most damning rebuke of police investigative procedure came from Michael Berkland, a forensic pathologist with 25 years of experience in 6,000 cases.

He pointed out discrepancies at the scene and noted that police delayed interviewing the victim's fiance even though the two had a physical argument shortly before her death.

After reviewing reports and photos, he concluded that "the crime scene was altered to simulate an intentional suicidal hanging."

Two of his colleagues agreed. On the basis of their reviews, the Manatee County medical examiner changed the official cause of death from "suicide" to "undetermined."

"For whatever reason the law enforcement agency there seems recalcitrant to admitting they did not do a thorough investigation," Berkland said. …

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