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Police say Western State wrestler death a suicide, yet keep investigation open

New details in death of Western State Colorado wrestler Dammion Heard
New details in death of Western State Colorado wrestler Dammion Heard
Photo courtesy of website, used with permission

Colorado police have declared that the death of a Western State Colorado University wrestler was suicide, but also say the investigation is still open and are seeking witnesses, according to widely differing media reports Tuesday.

The latest coverage of the incident involving Dammion Heard, the freshman wrestler who was found dead April 2 about eight miles west of campus, could not have been more different, with the “Denver Post” emphasizing the suicide aspect of Monday’s Gunnison, Colo. police report… while the “Fort Worth Star-Telegram” focused on the police’s plea for witnesses to come forward.

“Gunnison police are reporting that newly completed toxicology tests found LSD and marijuana in the body of a Western State Colorado University wrestler who was found hanging from a tree near Gunnison in early April,” reported the “Denver Post” Tuesday, adding, “The autopsy report identified the cause of Dammion Heard's death as suicide. But police say they are continuing the investigation.”

Yet, the “Fort Worth Star-Telegram” – the hometown newspaper for Heard, who was a 2013 Texas state champ at 113 pounds for Fossil Ridge High School outside Fort Worth – provided a completely different emphasis on the story in its Tuesday coverage, starting with the headline, “Witnesses sought in death of former Ridge wrestler.”

“Colorado investigators are seeking witnesses who may have been in the area where a former Fossil Ridge High School wrestling champion was found dead, hanging from a tree branch in April,” was the opening sentence in the “Star-Telegram” story.

“In a news release Monday, Gunnison, Colo., police said that other people could have been on Bureau of Land Management land near where Heard’s body was found,” continued the Fort Worth paper. “Anyone who may have been on Cabin Creek Road near U.S. 50 east of Gunnison from March 30 to April 2 is asked to contact authorities.”

Both newspapers included a statement from the Gunnison Police Department press release, saying that the death investigation remained open and active at this time.

Dammion Heard’s father Gary has been actively involved in trying to resolve the death of his son. The “Star-Telegram” reported that Gary Heard had hired a Colorado attorney and private investigator to look into the case. Also, he said, he hired a lab in Indianapolis to conduct toxicology tests. The lab found no drugs in his son’s system.

In addition, Gary Heard has established a $25,000 reward for information to solve the death of his 20-year-old son. A website has also been set up to gather and disseminate information.

“I had heard [Gunnison police] were looking for other witnesses,” Heard told the “Star-Telegram” Monday. “A witness told us somebody was near the area, trying to hide at the time [Dammion] was there, but I don’t know about others.

“Bikes were locked near there, so maybe somebody was out on the trails.”

In previous interviews, Heard said that his son had been upbeat and given no indications of being despondent or contemplating suicide. Earlier reports indicated Dammion Heard had gassed up his Saturn VUE prior to driving to the site where his body was found, and had made plans to see a girl later in the week.

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