A family's conflict opposite a policeman to try to infer relations was killed

When St. Johns County sheriff’s deputies arrived during a St. Augustine, Florida, home of Jeremy Banks on Sept. 2, 2010, they found his 24-year-old partner Michelle O’Connell fibbing on a building with a gunshot wound to a conduct and dozens of medication painkillers in her pocket.

“Please get someone to my house!” Banks had told a 911 operator. “Please. Send — my girlfriend, we consider she usually shot herself. There’s blood everywhere!”

Deputies found Banks, a associate St. John County sheriff’s deputy, crouched during a lavatory door, clutching his phone.

The gun was found on O’Connell’s left with a Tac light on a gun switched on. Later, cinema taken during a stage suggested a shot discharged into a carpet.

Despite a efforts of a initial responders, O’Connell was conspicuous passed tighten to 11:48 p.m. that night.

Outside a home, some deputies and detectives started to interpretation that O’Connell’s genocide was a suicide. Some of them were after interviewed as partial of a investigation.

“I didn’t have any suspicions that it was anything other than suicide. we consider that’s what we were all kind of discussing, yet usually creation certain that we lonesome a bases,” St. Johns County Det. Jessica Hines is listened observant in a recording of a talk for a investigation.

“It seemed she had committed suicide,” St. Johns County Cpl. Mark Shand pronounced in his interview.

PHOTO: Jeremy Banks is seen here with Michelle OConnell in this undated photo.OConnell Family
Jeremy Banks is seen here with Michelle O’Connell in this undated photo.

In a hours that followed, some associate deputies took time out to console their colleague and friend, Banks. A patrol automobile was used as a temporary talk room as Banks was fast questioned by Hines in an talk that was recorded.

During that interview, Banks pronounced that he was sitting on his motorcycle in a garage when he listened a cocktail and rushed inside.

“The bedroom doorway was sealed and we screamed her name again. we listened it go off a second time,” he told Hines.

Shortly after, Banks went to his parents’ home and O’Connell’s physique was taken to a morgue.

A family’s doubt about a woman’s death

When sheriff’s deputies told O’Connell’s family of her death, her mom Patty O’Connell told “20/20,” “They usually pronounced that she committed suicide, ‘your daughter killed herself. She committed suicide.’”

The O’Connell family found it tough to trust that Michelle O’Connell, a singular mom who worked mixed jobs to support Alexis, her 4-year-old daughter, would take her possess life.

PHOTO: Michelle OConnell pennyless adult with her boyfriend, Jeremy Banks hours before she was found passed on Sept. 2, 2010.OConnell Family
Michelle O’Connell pennyless adult with her boyfriend, Jeremy Banks hours before she was found passed on Sept. 2, 2010.

In fact, Michelle O’Connell had usually landed her dream pursuit during a day caring center.

“She said, ‘I’m going to a alloy and I’m not even sick, yet we have word for once in my life,’” her trainer Teresa Woodward remembered Michelle O’Connell excitedly observant when she gave her a job. Her genocide came as a sum startle to her.

Michelle O’Connell’s hermit Sean O’Connell and her sister Chrissy O’Connell were angry when they satisfied that a sheriff’s bureau had spent usually a few hours questioning before job her genocide a suicide.

“The word self-murder was thrown around right off a bat yet any investigation,” Chrissy O’Connell told “20/20.”

Two days after her death, medical examiner, Dr. Frederick Hobin, strictly ruled Michelle’s genocide a self-murder and notwithstanding a family’s initial efforts to have internal authorities enroll an outward group to inspect her death, St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar told them he would not be doing that.

Michelle O’Connell’s final hours

Through several interviews, authorities assembled a timeline of a final hours of Michelle O’Connell’s life.

Michelle O’Connell and Banks attended a Paramore unison that night in 2010 during a St. Augustine Amphitheater, and Banks told detectives a dual argued before, during and after a show.

“We don’t get along. We quarrel all a time. we mean, it’s never, never bad fighting. It’s always usually arguing,” Banks was available observant in an talk with St. Johns County sheriff’s bureau detectives.

According to Chrissy O’Connell, her sister wanted to mangle adult with Banks, yet motionless to go to a uncover initial given she already purchased a tickets in advance.

“She said, in loyal Michelle fashion, ‘I paid for a tickets. I’m going. I’m violation adult with him. I’m starting my life over,’” Chrissy O’Connell said. “She said, ‘I’ll be fine.’”

PHOTO: Michelle OConnell, 24, was found passed in a home of her boyfriend, Jeremy Banks in St. Augustine, Florida on Sept. 2, 2010.Anne Schindler
Michelle O’Connell, 24, was found passed in a home of her boyfriend, Jeremy Banks in St. Augustine, Florida on Sept. 2, 2010.

Michelle O’Connell’s hermit was also seated with her and Banks during a unison and pronounced Banks was “kind of withdrawn” during a show.

“I was like [to Banks], ‘Hey, do we mind scooting over, if you’re not going to have fun during a unison with my sister, I’m unequivocally going to,’” Sean O’Connell recalled.

Hours before, Michelle and Chrissy O’Connell had lunch, where Chrissy O’Connell says her sister talked about looking for a new section and that she was violation adult with Banks.

“This was kind of a culmination. we was endangered with all a assault and how a attribute had turned,” Chrissy O’Connell said.

PHOTO: Jeremy Banks has denied spiteful Michelle OConnell a night of her death, and he has never been charged with a crime.OConnell Family
Jeremy Banks has denied spiteful Michelle O’Connell a night of her death, and he has never been charged with a crime.

Her family says there had been whispers about written and earthy abuse within their attribute from both sides.

“She said, ‘There’s going to be a quarrel since he’s going to wish me to go out after a concert,’” Chrissy O’Connell said. “And we said, ‘Don’t even go to a concert.’ Because we knew Jeremy was rageful. we knew in my heart something was going to happen.”

Chrissy O’Connell was babysitting her sister’s daughter Alexis while they were during a concert. During a show, Chrissy O’Connell pronounced her sister sent her content messages.

“Promise me one thing. Lexi will be happy and always have a good life,” Michelle O’Connell pronounced in a content summary to Chrissy O’Connell about her daughter.

“Promise we what?” Chrissy O’Connell wrote back.

“That no matter what, Lexi will always be protected and loved,” Michelle O’Connell responded to her sister.

“What’s going on? I’m scared,” Chrissy O’Connell texted.

By a finish of a concert, Michelle O’Connell texted her sister, “I’ll be there soon.” But Michelle O’Connell never picked adult Alexis.

Banks told detectives that on a proceed home from a amphitheater, “She said, ‘I’ll have my things out by this weekend.’ And we said, ‘Are we violation up?’ She pronounced yes. And we was like, ‘All right.’ we lifted my voice. She lifted her voice. We argued. But when we got to a house, we were fine,” Banks pronounced in his talk with detectives.

PHOTO: Hours before her death, Michelle OConnell had messaged her sister, Chrissy OConnell to guarantee her that Lexi will be happy.OConnell Family
Hours before her death, Michelle O’Connell had messaged her sister, Chrissy O’Connell to guarantee her that “Lexi will be happy.”

According to Banks, Michelle O’Connell was inside a residence while he remained outward with dual friends. At one point, Michelle O’Connell went outward to collect a makeup bag from a automobile and fast returned inside.

After 10 to 20 minutes, Banks pronounced his friends left and he sat alone in a garage when he listened a popping sound.

“I knew accurately what it was. Just instinct and we usually said, ‘S—,’ and we ran inside. we started screaming her name. The bedroom doorway was locked, and we screamed her name again,” Banks told detectives. “I listened it go off again a second time. we ran into a vital room. we grabbed a phone. we kicked a bedroom doorway in and we found her laying where she is.”

Inside a examination into Michelle O’Connell’s death

Debra Maynard, a former St. Johns County sheriff’s emissary who was one of a initial to arrive, questioned what she was conference on a scene.

“Immediately, it was roughly like they were holding Jeremy’s word that she shot herself during that point,” Maynard said. “We were told it was a suicide. They automatically pronounced it was a suicide, yet we are lerned to any stage is a carnage until proven otherwise. But they did immediately start job it a suicide.”

PHOTO: Michelle OConnell worked mixed jobs to support her 4-year-old daughter, Alexis.OConnell Family
Michelle O’Connell worked mixed jobs to support her 4-year-old daughter, Alexis.

Maynard was after discharged by a sheriff, reportedly for untruthfulness. She claims it was since a policeman asked her to distortion in an separate box and she refused.

A after military talk with Banks suggested he had gained entrance to a news about a investigation.

“I’ve already examination a report. we know we substantially shouldn’t have. we usually wanted to know what went down on a other side,” Banks told a detective.

Some in a dialect after certified to carrying doubts about what happened that night.

“When we initial walked into that room, a initial suspicion that went by my mind was, ‘This is not good for Jeremy,’” Sgt. Scott Beaver, who worked on a case, told investigators. “I was in a carnage section for a few years, and it didn’t supplement up. But we didn’t do some-more examination into this.”

Shoar, a St. Johns County Sheriff, would after acknowledge missteps were finished by his department. Among them, deputies unsuccessful to board a area for witnesses, unsuccessful to talk a decedent’s family members and unsuccessful to isolate, talk and sketch Banks in a structured environment.

As for since Banks didn’t take Michelle O’Connell’s beat or perform lifesaving measures, his profession Mac McLeod told “20/20,” “I don’t consider his support of mind was as a emissary during a time as we was saying. we consider his support of mind was totally repelled and freaked out.”

PHOTO: St. Johns County Sheriff, David Shoar, concurred missteps were finished by his dialect while questioning a genocide of Michelle O’Connell.ABC News
St. Johns County Sheriff, David Shoar, concurred missteps were finished by his dialect while questioning a genocide of Michelle O’Connell.

Michelle O’Connell’s family insists she wasn’t looking to take her possess life.

In her appointment book, found in a car, Michelle O’Connell had sealed adult for CPR training for dual days after her death. Michelle O’Connell also had skeleton to accommodate with her crony Mindy Fox a night she died.

In addition, a pills found in her slot during a time of her genocide were from Banks’ medication bottles, and zero of a pills was found in her system. All a pills were accounted for.

While a sheriff’s dialect and Michelle’s family are during contingency over how she died, it is definite that she was killed with Banks’ use weapon.

When asked how Banks cumulative his firearms in a home, McLeod said, “not well.”

“I consider that a process was to secure your firearm; that essentially for law coercion officer means we put it in possibly a gun tighten or in a secure place adult aloft so that children and things, and other people in a residence can’t get to it. However, in practice, like other law coercion officers, he came in, would take his gun belt off, and would place it on a chair or place it somewhere else,” McLeod said.

It took 4 months, yet Shoar finally bent to vigour from a family, meaningful that his department’s examination had depressed short. He asked state investigators to take a uninformed demeanour during a case.

A second demeanour during a genocide of Michelle O’Connell

Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) questioner Rusty Rodgers was reserved to a case. In his investigation, he found something that a sheriff’s dialect had not: Two women who contend they listened dual screams for assistance from a lady and dual gunshots a night Michelle O’Connell died.

“The dual girls listened her roar for help. If she was suicidal, if she was murdering herself, she’s not going to roar for help,” Patty O’Connell said.

As to a dual gunshots, Sheriff Shoar says it is not odd for some self-murder victims to glow off a exam shot before banishment a deadly shot.

Following his investigation, Rodgers presented his commentary to a medical examiner, Dr. Hobin. According to a recording of an talk with Dr. Hobin by Jacksonville contributor Anne Schindler, Hobin came to trust that Michelle O’Connell’s genocide was “probably a homicide.”

PHOTO: Michelle O’Connell’s mom Patty O’Connell is seen here during an talk with 20/20.ABC News
Michelle O’Connell’s mom Patty O’Connell is seen here during an talk with “20/20.”

Hobin filled out an nice genocide certificate and listed carnage as a demeanour of death.

“And we pronounced that, formed on this, we would rectify a autopsy and change a demeanour of genocide from self-murder to homicide,” Hobin pronounced in a recording of his talk with Schindler. “I did that, yet usually internally. we mean, we didn’t, we didn’t send it out, it wasn’t filed with anybody, wasn’t sent to a wake director, wasn’t disclosed, anybody solely a state attorney.”

Hobin didn’t strictly record a nice genocide certificate, he told Schindler, since he was told to reason off by a state profession while a examination continued.

“So we had people almost, roughly tighten to doing a right thing, and afterwards we have people above them that said, “No, we’re gonna do it a small different.” Patty O’Connell said.

Hobin was after reprimanded by a state medical examiner’s bureau for gripping that request and others during his home rather than during a medical examiner’s office.

A new medical examiner, Dr. Predrag Bulic, was afterwards consulted. Bulic believes Michelle O’Connell’s genocide was a suicide.

In his investigation, Rodgers also called in a crime stage reconstructionist with 4 decades of experience, who achieved a margin exam outward to try to see if Michelle shot herself or was shot by someone else, formed on where a bombard casings landed in his test. His conclusion: This was a homicide.

Shoar and Banks fought back. Shoar penned a 152-page examination of a case, that is mostly a certain criticism of his department. He ridiculed a margin exam over a fact it was finished in an open margin and didn’t take into criticism a variables during a scene, such as walls, a ceiling, seat and Michelle O’Connell’s extremities.

PHOTO: Sean O’Connell and Chrissy O’Connell don’t trust their sister, Michelle O’Connell, could have taken her possess life.ABC News
Sean O’Connell and Chrissy O’Connell don’t trust their sister, Michelle O’Connell, could have taken her possess life.

Banks fought behind in a form of filing a lawsuit opposite a FDLE and Rodgers for allegedly violating his polite rights. The box dragged on for years.

“They did their possess investigation,” Sean O’Connell said. “They investigated, their, themselves, and afterwards after on they finally move in FDLE, who paints this design that it’s not jiving, it doesn’t demeanour good, and they don’t like it. So they conflict a FDLE representative and go after him hard, tooth and nail.”

In a deficiency of justification that Michelle O’Connell’s genocide was not by suicide, special prosecutor Brad King pennyless a news to a O’Connells.

“He calls us in for a assembly and fundamentally says, ‘There’s not adequate evidence.’ So a family was usually pushed aside and this assembly was unequivocally hostile,” Chrissy O’Connell said. “My mom was devastated, and we consider I’ve pronounced before it was like a second misfortune day of my life. You know a initial losing Michelle.”

Michelle O’Connell’s physique is exhumed

Five and a half years after Michelle O’Connell’s death, her family had her physique exhumed and got in hold with Dr. William Anderson, a debate pathologist and former emissary arch medical questioner for Orange County, Florida. He was asked to inspect a strange autopsy news and to do a second autopsy.

While examining a x-rays taken during Michelle O’Connell’s strange autopsy, Anderson beheld there was another repairs on her body.

“When we did a exhumation… a jawbone was in dual pieces, so indicates there was a fracture,” Anderson told “20/20.”

After Shoar schooled of a exhumation, he released a matter about a family, observant in part, “Molesting Michelle from her place of rest regulating some freelance form proceed is over unconventional. It was reprehensible.”

“Even if he doesn’t determine with it, or whatever, he should in no proceed figure or form ever speak, open release, whatever to a family regulating those difference ever,” Sean O’Connell pronounced of Shoar’s statement. “It unequivocally shows his character.”

“Despite rumors and statements to a contrary, we did this totally pro bono,” Anderson said.

News of a detonate brought into doubt a work of Hobin, a strange medical examiner. Banks’ profession Mac McLeod told “20/20″ that Hobin “noted mandibular separation. It’s not in a autopsy report. It’s in his margin notes.”

But Anderson pronounced a fact that was it was left out of a autopsy news was “very disturbing.”

“Because if all else is unequivocally delicately described, and we leave out a vital anticipating out of your report, it’s not good practice,” Anderson pronounced of Hobin’s repudiation of a detonate from a autopsy report.

It’s poignant since Anderson pronounced a detonate reveals how Michelle O’Connell could have died.

“The usually reason that we can see that’s reasonable is that, uh, there was another force, a blow to a chin that pennyless a beak before to a time a gunshot wound was inflicted,” he said. “In my opinion, it was a homicide.”

Banks has always denied spiteful Michelle a night of her genocide and he has never been charged with a crime. He stays a sheriff’s emissary with a St. Johns County office.

“What a family wants to trust or what a speculation … being due was… that she contingency have been strike unequivocally hard,” Banks’ profession McLeod said, adding that there “was a problem with that” since no medical questioner “worth his salt … will tell we that in an intraoral gunshot wound, such as this, with a high-powered arms that some-more mostly than not we design to see mandibular separation.”

Anderson pronounced it is illusive in some cases that a shot could separate a jaw, yet he doesn’t trust that’s box with Michelle O’Connell, formed on a justification he reviewed.

“There was a gunshot wound to a mouth that put a hole in a tongue yet didn’t do any other repairs to a teeth, to a gums, to a building of a mouth, a unequivocally soothing hankie that fundamentally would’ve been broken if there had been adequate force from that blast to mangle a jaw,” Anderson said.

McLeod argued opposite that, observant if O’Connell had been hit, “you would see bruising. You would see abrasion. You’d see something. There’s nothing.”

Anderson pronounced he had conducted about 8,000 to 9,000 autopsies over his career and “if we die fast enough, we will not have bruising.”

Having gotten a answers a family was looking for, Michelle O’Connell’s physique was returned to her grave, yet her genocide is still an open doubt for a family.

Where a box of Michelle O’Connell’s genocide stands today

Last year, a Florida Medical Examiners Commission reprimanded Hobin and Bulic after last they had mishandled some of a components of a investigation.

“[Hobin] brought some element home and hadn’t kept it, we know, in a medical examiner’s office,” contributor Anne Schindler said. “Bulic, we think, had usually showed autopsy photos that he wasn’t ostensible to uncover to nonfamily members.”

Hobin was also called out for his bad recordkeeping in unwell to request a jawbone detonate in his autopsy report.

The medical examiners and a states profession declined to criticism for this report.

The sheriff’s bureau told “20/20″ in a matter that “this box has been extensively reviewed by countless investigations” who “have ceaselessly ruled a genocide a suicide.”

The latest growth in a box is that usually weeks ago, a decider found that FDLE representative Rusty Rodgers had illusive means to catch Banks for carnage and discharged Banks’ polite lawsuit in Rodgers’ favor.

The exclusion of a polite lawsuit has revived a O’Connell family’s query for justice. Michelle O’Connell’s mom hopes that Gov. Rick Scott assigns a new special prosecutor.

The governor’s bureau told “20/20” they will always listen to a O’Connell family’s concerns. The family is also apostolic for a law that would forestall departments from questioning one of their own.

“Because they work together, and we know, they demeanour out for any other. we usually feel like something’s got to change,” Sean O’Connell said.

McLeod pronounced a box has busted Banks’ life.

“His neighbors that travel adult and down a travel during 2 [a.m.] during night and will roar during him, ‘murderer,’” McLeod said.

But Michelle O’Connell’s family pronounced it’s her daughter Alexis, now 12, who feels a biggest void.

“You can’t suffer until you, um, get justice,’ Patty O’Connell said. “You have to have your justice. And it never goes away.”

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