Marine Corps denies coverup of suicide investigation

WASHINGTON — The results of an investigation into the suicide of a Marine that suggested his unit might have a “drug problem” and highlighted a hostile work environment were withheld from the Marine’s family for an “unacceptably long time” spanning months, according to documents and letters obtained by The Washington Post.

Cpl. Jonathan M. Gee, 22, hanged himself early Aug. 29, 2015, at the Marine Corps’ Henderson Hall, near the Pentagon, after a night of partying, the investigation found. He and another Marine had been thrown out of the EchoStage concert hall in Washington hours before, when they were discovered in a restroom stall with cocaine, the investigation’s report said. Gee was found the next afternoon.

The investigation was initially completed in January, but its release was “unnecessarily delayed” after it was sent from Gee’s unit – the Headquarters and Service Battalion for Marine Corps headquarters – to Marine lawyers at Quantico, Va., according to a letter the service sent last month to Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. The report was approved in May by a commanding officer, Col. Joseph Murray, but the results were withheld from the Gee family until September.

“The review and endorsed investigation should have been forwarded to our Casualty Branch so they could notify the family that the investigation was available upon request,” said a letter to McCaskill signed by Col. Andrew M. Regan, commander of Gee’s battalion. “High personnel turnover during this period contributed to the inexcusable delay in forwarding the investigation to the Casualty Branch.”

The investigation’s completion also was delayed by the need for an autopsy and toxicology report, Regan’s letter added. Those showed that Gee had alcohol in his system along with several prescription drugs that can cause suicidal thoughts when mixed with it, including an insomnia medication and several anti-anxiety drugs.

A Marine spokesman, Maj. Clark Carpenter, said that although the delays were regrettable and the service is sorry for any distress it caused the family, they were “in no way” intentional.

“We remain committed to providing the maximum amount of transparency, even in tragic situations like this,” he said.

On top of the delays, the family was also frustrated by a miscommunication that left uncertain whether Gee’s remains would arrive in his home town of St. Charles, Missouri, in time for his funeral and saddened by the misspelling of his first name as “Jonathon” on his transfer case, said Janele Riggs, his older sister.

“Have some respect, you know? We just lost a family member,” Riggs said in an interview. “Don’t spell his name wrong. It was just so frustrating.”

The Marine Corps only recently became aware of the spelling mistake and considers it “deeply regrettable,” Carpenter said. A Marine official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said that a Washington-area mortician prepared Gee’s remains and that the service “had no means to identify the spelling error prior to delivery of the remains to the family.”

McCaskill has met with Marine officials and said that they have pledged to address her concerns.

“The Gees have gone through more than any family should in the wake of their son’s death last year,” she said. “Compounding their grief were a lack of transparency and extended delays from the Marine Corps that were unacceptable and avoidable. The Gees — and any family with loved ones who sign up to serve this country — need and deserve answers in a timely fashion.”

Gee worked in the support section for Lt. Gen. James B. Laster, director of Marine Corps staff, and primarily wrote condolence letters for families of deceased Marines. He was known to be gregarious and looking forward to getting out of the military and moving back to his hometown, according to Riggs and the investigation.

But Gee had several stressful situations in his life, including a painful back condition and a toxic work environment in which a senior enlisted Marine “targeted” several junior members in the office, the investigation found. The leader, whose name was redacted from the report, was removed from her job “because of her hostile attitude and demeaning behavior toward subordinates,” a Marine official said.

The investigating officer wrote that it appears “no one thing” drove Gee to suicide but that there were “clear chances for intervention” in his life. The Marine was able to maintain a “veneer of happiness” while still struggling internally, the investigation said.

The investigation also found that Gee wore a bracelet that said “Where’s Molly” – a reference to the drug ecstasy – the night he died. Nothing in the investigation definitively proves that other Marines in Gee’s battalion also used drugs, but the investigating officer wrote that “many of the Marines interviewed” attended the same rave parties in Washington.

“Headquarters and Service Battalion … may face a drug problem,” the investigator wrote. “Corporal Gee was able to hide his sustained drug use from the command.”

A commanding officer, whose name was redacted from documents, reviewed the report and wrote that the “most disturbing finding” of the investigation was that other Marines knew about Gee’s drug use but did nothing to intervene.

Maj. Gen. Burke Whitman, the outgoing director of the service’s Marine and Family Division, said that the service has launched several programs to curb suicide in recent years, including the Marine Intercept Program. It was adopted in 2013 and includes Marine officials touching base regularly with those who have attempted suicide or expressed suicidal thoughts. The program receives about 900 reports annually.

Since 2012, the number of Marines who commit suicide has fluctuated between 46 and 59 a year.

“It’s a constant drumbeat, and it will continue to be,” Whitman said of preventing suicide. “This is not a job. This is our family, and we take that very seriously.”

ad-high_impact_4
News
Protesters Line Streets for President Trump's Arrival in Las Vegas
Hundreds lined the streets in front of Suncoast to protest President Donald Trump's arrival in Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Thunder Mountain monument stands as a tribute to Native American culture
Caretaker Fred Lewis talks about Thunder Mountain monument in central Nevada, made from concrete and found items. The five-acre site is a tribute to Native Peoples of the West. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New CCSD superintendent Jesus F. Jara aims for 1st in the nation
On his third day as Clark County School District superintendent, Jesus F. Jara talks about his vision for the future during a visit to Del Sol Academy of the Performing Arts on Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Ceremony Recognizes Refugee Students, Graduates
Rosy Mibulano, a graduate of Las Vegas High School who came to America from the Congo in 2015, was recognized in a ceremony for refugee students in Clark County. Like many other students relocated to Las Vegas from countries around the world, Rosy had a challenging high school experience, from learning English to adjusting to American customs and taking care of her family. On top of that, she wants to go to school to become a nurse so she can take care of her mother, who suffers from diabetes. The annual Refugee Recognition Ceremony celebrates the enormous lengths these young adults go through to create a new life for themselves. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Water leak at Mandalay Bay convention center
The convention center area of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas experienced major flooding Tuesday afternoon. Credit: Melinda Cook
Hollywood Memorabilia Up For Grabs at Las Vegas Auction
Elvis Presley's car, Marilyn Monroe's bras, Han Solo's blaster, and Jerry Lewis's "Nutty Professor" suit are just some of the items that are up for auction at Julien's Auctions at Planet Hollywood June 22 and 23. The auction's viewing room at Planet Hollywood is open to the public 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday at Planet Hollywood. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Springs Preserve Exhibit Shows Off "Nature's Ninjas"
"Nature's Ninjas" arrives at the Springs Preserve, in an exhibit and live show featuring critters that come with natural defenses, from armadillos to snakes, poison dart frogs to scorpions and tarantulas (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossRoads of Southern Nevada psychiatric urgent care to open in Las Vegas
Jeff Iverson, who operates the nonprofit sober living facility Freedom House, is opening a private addiction treatment center that will operate a detoxification center and transitional living for substance users trying to recover. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Wayne Newton surprises burglars
Wayne Newton and his wife, Kathleen, arrived at their southeast Las Vegas home shortly before midnight on Wednesday to find two burglars inside their house. The burglars fled and were seen heading north through the property. Las Vegas police quickly set up a perimeter and launched an extensive search of the area, but the suspects were able to escape. It was unclear if the burglars got away with anything of value. Several items, under the watchful eyes of the police, were seen on the ground near the home's main driveway. Neither Newton, nor his wife, were injured. The Newtons were not available for comment.
Police Officers Turn Off Body Cameras
In four separate body camera videos from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting released Wednesday, officers in a strike team are instructed to turn their body cameras off and comply with the request.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
How long will North Korea's denuclearization take?
In Singapore, Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders asks President Donald Trump how long North Korea's denuclearization will take. White House video.
LVCVA purchase of gift cards hidden
A former LVCVA executive hid the purchase of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards in records at the agency. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, said the money was for promotional events and did not disclose that it was for gift cards. Lawson also instructed Southwest employees to submit invoices without mentioning the purchases were for the cards. More than $50,000 of the cards cannot be accounted for. The convention authority is publicly funded . Lawson recently resigned.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
Coca-Cola Bottle Purse Has 9,888 Diamonds
Designer Kathrine Baumann and jeweler Aaron Shum set the Guinness World Record for most diamonds (9,888) set on a handbag. The Coca Cola bottle-shaped purse was on display at the Coca Cola Store on the Strip. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sentosa Island a pleasure resort with a pirate past
The site of Tuesday's U.S.-North Korea summit is known for theme parks and resorts. But before that, it was known as a pirate island. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge Sandra Pomrenze's comment about girl's hair
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
East Las Vegas home damaged by fire
Clark County Fire Department crews responded to a house fire in east Las Vegas Thursday morning. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
911 call: Mom tries to get to son shot at Route 91
A woman stuck on the interstate during the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, tries to get to her son. 911 call released by Las Vegas police.
Las Vegas 911 caller reports people shot on Oct. 1
A 911 caller on Oct. 1, 2017, reports several people shot at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
911 call from woman under stage in Las Vegas shooting
A 911 call from a woman underneath the stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival during the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting.
LVCVA facing scandal over gift cards
LVCVA is facing a growing scandal over airline gift cards. LVCVA bought $90,000 in Southwest Airline gift cards between 2012 and 2017. Now auditors can’t account for more than $50,000 of the cards. CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and his family used $16,207 in gift cards on 56 trips. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, was responsible for buying and distributing the cards. He recently resigned.
Siblings separated in the foster care system get a day together
St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Cowabunga Bay Cares program partnered to bring 75 siblings together for the day to play on the water slides and in the pools at the Henderson water park. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People flee the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Las Vegas police released footage from a camera on Mandalay Bay of the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Aaliyah Inghram awarded medal of courage
Aaliyah Inghram, a 10-year-old girl who was shot while protecting her 18-month-old brother and 4-year-old cousin during a shooting on May 8, awarded medal of courage. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like