Murder or Suicide?
Investigation into mysterious death of Dammion Heard takes dramatic turn
The family of Dammion Heard is clinging to new hope in the ongoing investigation surrounding the mysterious death of their 20-year-old son. A former Texas State Champion Wrestler at Fossil Ridge High School in Keller, Dammion was found dead on April 2 near Gunnison, Colorado, where he was attending Western State Colorado University.
His body was found hanging from a tree, and police have said they are pursuing no suspects in the case, which has been portrayed as a suicide. Dammion's father, Gary Heard, never believed his son killed himself. He is offering a $25,000 reward for information and has hired a team of private investigators to look into the case. Gary says those investigators found an eyewitness who saw Dammion and another person on the hill where Dammion's body was found.
"To have that kind of information and say you aren't pursuing any suspects, that's not very good police work," Gary Heard says.
The witness, Gary says, was walking her dog when she spotted two men, along with their two vehicles. She reportedly told police that she saw a man crouched in the grass beside Dammion's body and using binoculars to look out at the road. The description and timing of the report coincide with the circumstances of Dammion's case.
Gary is furious that the Gunnison Police Department didn't do more with the description of the other man's car, a white, older model truck with a camper shell and a breast cancer awareness license plate holder. He plans to place ads in Colorado newspapers next week asking for information about the vehicle and anyone who might have spotted it near the scene of Dammion's death.
"To have that kind of information and say you aren't pursuing any suspects, that's not very good police work," Gary says. "It's a blatant disregard of a witness."
Gunnison police detective Chris Danos declined to comment on the alleged eye witness, citing the ongoing investigation. "Our investigation has progressed, and we're gaining a lot more information, but we're not at the point where we can release anything publicly," Danos says.
Dammion's official autopsy and toxicology report are still pending, but Gary says his private forensic pathologist determined that there were no drugs in Dammion's body at the time of his death. The last time Dammion was seen alive, he was at a party with friend and wrestling teammates.
"I'm sick of all the character assassinations against a very good man — who just happens to be my son — and I'm not putting up with it anymore. We are not going to let this go away."
Gary says he's releasing this information because his investigation has been stymied by officials at Western State Colorado University. "Our investigators can't do a whole lot more, because the school has told students not to talk to us."
University spokesperson Brian Barker says that characterization is untrue. "We have not advised our students not to talk to private investigators. We have counseled our students that it may be wise to speak to their parents or an attorney first."
With more than two months passing since his son's death and still no suspects identified, Gary says he feels like he's running out of options. "I don't have anything to lose, and I don't have anything to fear."