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Website, tourney created to honor, seek clues in death of wrestler Dammion Heard

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A memorial wrestling tournament, along with a website, have been created to honor and seek clues in the death of Dammion Heard, 20-year-old Western State Colorado University athlete whose body was found a few miles from campus in early April.

The Be Heard! Memorial Tournament will be held at Heard’s prep alma mater, Fossil Ridge High School, 4101 Thompson Road, Keller, Texas on Saturday, May 24.

Weigh-ins take place 7:30-8:30 a.m. Central time; wrestling begins at 9 a.m.

Competition in folkstyle will be organized in a number of age divisions, including Junior (born Sept. 1, 1994 through 1997), High School Women’s (same age range as Junior), Cadet (born 1998 or 1999), Schoolboy/Schoolgirl (2000 or 2001), Novice (2002 or 2003), Intermediate (2004 or 2005), and Bantam (2006 or 2007). Weight classes will be determined after weigh-ins.

All proceeds go to the Dammion Heard Memorial Benefit Fund.

Online registration is available via TrackWrestling.com; deadline is Friday, May 23 at 11:59 a.m. Central. For more information, contact tournament director Jake Hart via email at hart.jake@gmail.com

Wrestler honored with new website

In addition, a website – www.b-heard.net – has been established to honor the late wrestler, and to accept online donations for the Dammion Heard Memorial Benefit Fund. In addition, quoting the website, “Dammion’s family is offering a $25,600 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Dammion Heard.”

Initial reports indicated Heard – 125-pound starter for the Western State Colorado Mountaineers who was a 2013 Texas high school state wrestling champ -- had been last seen on campus Saturday, March 29. Four days later – Wednesday, April 2 – Heard’s body was found on Bureau of Land Management property about 8 miles east of Gunnison, home to Western State, about 200 miles southwest of Denver. His car, a black 2004 Saturn Vue, was found nearby, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

At the days immediately after his body was found, no cause of death was revealed. However, in a statement at the time, Western State interim President Brad Baca said that police have “assured the university that the circumstances surrounding Dammion’s death do not pose a danger to the campus community.”

New details on Dammion Heard's death

New details emerged from a Denver Post story on Sunday, April 27 that Heard’s body was found hanging from a tree. An autopsy showed Dammion died from strangulation, and had been dead since about the early-morning hours of March 30, when he disappeared.

Dammion’s father Gary Heard told Denver Post reporter Nancy Lofholm that Gunnison police and the Gunnison County coroner told him that his son had hung himself.

However, as Lofholm pointed out in her story, the Western Colorado wrestler’s final actions were not indicative of someone who was planning – let alone contemplating – suicide. He had made arrangements to share an apartment with a friend next semester. He told his father by phone he was planning a hike the following day to help rehab an injured knee, and was planning to attend a party that night. In addition, he had put $25 worth of gas into his SUV.

Armed with that information and nagging doubt, Gary Heard has spent the past month conducting his own investigation of his son’s mysterious death. “Heard is pouring tens of thousands of dollars into a private investigation to do what he said authorities in Gunnison failed to do,” according to the Denver Post. “He has commissioned a private autopsy and toxicology tests. He has hired one of Colorado's most high-profile attorneys, Pamela Mackey, to handle lawsuits he intends to file and to use her own team of investigators. He has established a reward of $25,600 for any information that might lead to an arrest and conviction in his son's death. He has created a tribute and information-seeking website.”

One area of investigation centers on what may have happened at the party Dammion Heard attended. Some attendees initially reported that Heard had been involved in a verbal altercation at the party, but later changed their stories to indicate there may have been a physical fight.

Funds raised via the website and the May 24 tournament are intended to help the Heard family solve the mystery of what happened to their 20-year-old son.

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