Twenty-five years after a man’s death is ruled suicide, an autopsy reveals he was murdered.
On Memorial Day, 1968, 18-year old Leroy Drieth had just left his girlfriend’s house in Mead, Colorado, when his car slammed into a tree He was killed instantly. The coroner’s ruling was suicide. Twenty-five years later, at his family’s request, Leroy’s body was exhumed for an autopsy. Leroy’s sister, Vickie Mahrling, had always been convinced that her brother was murdered:
Leroy was the oldest of four children. At the age of 17, he fell in love with sixteen-year-old, Patty. A year later, they were engaged.
On the day he died, Leroy went to a party at Patty’s house. He left the party in the late afternoon. A block and a half away, his car smashed head-on into a tree. The first people on the scene were Leroy’s brother and his father, Henry:
When medics arrived, a bystander made a comment that Leroy had fought with his girlfriend and that he had said he was going to kill himself. Delbert Mikkelson was the ambulance driver:
Based on that information, the coroner decided no autopsy was necessary. He called Leroy’s death “auto suicide.” Freda Bruce is Leroy’s mother:
For eleven-year-old Vickie, Leroy’s death was the defining moment in her life:
In June of 1988, Vickie paid a surprise visit to the coroner’s office. She expected to be stonewalled. Instead, they told her they thought that Leroy’s death hadn’t been fully investigated. According to Vickie, the coroner suggested that she hire a private investigator:
Vickie became her own investigator. She knocked on doors, talked to neighbors, and looked for anyone who knew Leroy’s girlfriend , Patty, or remembered the day he died:
Vickie placed an ad in the local paper asking Patty to contact her. It worked. When they met, Patty denied that she ever told anyone that she and Leroy had fought and that he said he was going to take his life. But, according to Vickie, that’s all Patty was willing to say:
Vickie and her family decided to have Leroy’s body exhumed, hoping an autopsy might provide some answers. Dr. Patrick Allen, a forensic pathologist and medical examiner, examined the body and made a shocking discovery:
Vickie was stunned. Leroy’s neck showed two cuts: a stab wound, nearly two inches long, and a deep, four-inch slash that had severed his windpipe. Based on this information, the cause of Leroy’s death was changed from “auto suicide” to “undetermined.” But who had attacked Leroy and why? Vickie Mahrling thinks Patty knows the truth:
Leroy arrived for the barbeque at around five 5:00 P.M. Patty’s former sister-in-law,
After the argument, Patty walked Leroy to his car. Vickie thinks that just before he left, Leroy was attacked by one of Patty’s family members:
Patrick Allen thinks Leroy was fleeing for his life when he crashed:
Vickie claims that Patty contacted her again and offered to provide an account of the party. But when Vickie called to set up a meeting, she found that Patty’s phone had been disconnected. Vickie is still hoping that Patty will come forward with the truth.
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