CHICAGO (CBS) — Cheryl Jackson got the call that her brother Cary Owsley had killed himself on April 7th.
“It was like a bad dream. I was on a date with a former police detective who was really the key to this case. The more he learned about the case and heard the details of the scene, the more I questioned what really happened, so I immediately drove to my hometown of Columbus, Indiana and started asking questions,” she said.
When Jackson arrived, she said her brother’s home was not even taped off and family members were going in and out of the house while her brother’s body was still inside.
“My brother, his wife is formerly married to a Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Deputy. This deputy becomes important because he actually worked the crime scene. When he gets on the scene, he recognizes the gun that my brother is killed with is his gun. He says in the police statement that it is his gun. He then proceeds while he is off duty to touch the gun, help move the body, to touch every piece of evidence in the crime scene. I believe this was an obstruction of justice.”
Owsley’s death was immediately ruled a suicide but Jackson says there was no autopsy and no forensics.
“It was never yellow taped off. My brother was supposedly shot in a chair, police allowed the family to burn the chair. They lost the bullet. They didn’t collect the bullet at the scene. There was no gunshot residue on his hands. There was no autopsy, there was no photos of the wound. There was no forensic evidence of any kind. Then the police ask us to trust them that it still looks like a suicide to them. And I ask since when do we not need forensics to decide if there’s been a crime?” Jackson asked.
“They didn’t even measure trajectory of the bullet til later and by then the bullet hole was puddied in. This is a shoddy investigation.”
Cary Owsley was black and his wife is white. Jackson believes the sheriff’s department’s handling of the case is racially motivated.
“I’ve never played the race card. My brother who was a black man, who was lying down, shot in the chest, the coroner came in and he told me that he determined that my brother killed himself by the witnesses in the room. I asked him at the time, I said what would’ve happened if you walked into the room and his wife was shot in the chest and he was the one standing there? Would have this gone different? He said, yes, probably.”
Jackson and her family has petitioned to exhume her brother’s body and is asking the federal government to take on the case.
“I do believe the treatment of my brother’s dead body was racially motivated in that police agencies did not feel provoked to do their due diligence and investigate it and the coroner completely dropped the ball and his report conflict with with the deputies reports say,” Jackson said. ”
Jackson admits that relatives of suicide victims often times don’t believe that their loved ones could take their own lives but so much about this case was troubling.
“Cary had a strained relationship with his wife’s sons and he was called racial slurs by her family on many occasions. He called me the night before and told me his marriage was over and he was ready to move out. I don’t believe he killed himself. I just want to know the truth.”
Jackson has put the pressure on the Batholomew County Sheriff’s Department and set up a Facebook page in her quest for justice. She says no matter where the evidence points, she will accept the answers, as long as she can find them.
“I don’t intend to quit until I have my last breath because I believe something is being hidden about my brother’s death and I intend to do everything I can to find out what it is. If I died under these circumstances, my brother would be defend me and he would not stop until he got the truth. We’ve been fighting for each other all of our lives. I’m going to keep fighting for him. People who knew Cary loved him.”
Calls to the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s department were unreturned but officials have stood by their original suicide ruling. The ex husband and two other deputies were suspended for how they handled the investigation.
Meantime, Owsley’s family awaits a ruling on their exhumation request and Jackson has requested a meeting with Indiana’s Attorney General.
“In the end, he didn’t have an autopsy. Everyone is entitled to a cause of death especially a gunshot death and especially since there was marital discourse. It’s simple. Cary Owsley didn’t get a fair shake. He was disrespected.”