[ML - I’ve condensed and reformatted this newsletter e-mail thread to read oldest to newest.]
----- Forwarded Message ----
To: "MichaelLoftus @crime-safety-security.com"
Sent: Sunday, July 12, 2009 6:20:53 PM
Subject: Submission from “MRiebehome @aol.com”
First Name: Michael
E-mail Address: MRiebehome @aol.com
Country: United States
My son was Joshua F. Riebe, 22 years old, attending Dixie State College, St. George, UT and was on a football scholarship. He was tremendously liked among friends and teachers. He was scheduled to graduate next fall semester with his Teaching Degree. He already had offers to teach both in Utah and here at home in Colorado. He died in the early morning hours on 11/11/08. His mother and I spoke with him the night of 11/10/08 after he had a full examination at the St. George Hospital. He told us all about the attack and that he suffered a broken nose. Medical records indicate he came into the emergency clinic complaining of painful breathing, dizziness and double vision. The clinic noted severe chest contusions, and suspected fractured ribs. They did an EKG and CAT scan recording the broken nose and his heart as normal. They gave him pain medication, Vicodin and Soma and referred him to go to the St. George free clinic as he was uninsured. He was discharged. Despite his ataxia he was somehow able to drive himself home. Later that afternoon (Monday) he met a friend of his at a class they took together, Joe, who happens to be a police officer in Washington City, right next to St. George. He wanted to know from Joe details about reporting the assault. Joe has been very helpful to us personally, noting what he witnessed in his short visit with Josh, that all his visible injuries were defensive in nature, supporting Josh's explanation that he was "jumped". He promised Joe he would report the attack first thing in the morning. Josh did not know his attackers, but recognized the girl that drove them to his house. She was a recent acquaintance which he had had an argument with just days before.
Josh died that night, apparently in his sleep. A Detective spoke with me the morning of 11/11/08 from St. George, he already knew of the attack as there were witnesses. He assured me he would be getting to the bottom of things and that if this attack had anything to do with Josh's death, serious charges would follow. He said however from what he sees, it looks to him like an "accidental overdose" on Josh's part. He found several empty pharmaceutical bottles in Josh's room which he feared Josh may have consumed that night. He shipped Josh's body to Salt Lake City that afternoon for an autopsy, and requested a toxicology test also be done.
Needless to say, the next few months were pure hell for us as a family. We were left with the notion that our son (an addict?) died of an overdose?! How we were able to get through his remarkable funeral, 11/22/08 (400 people in attendance), and speak to all his friends asking questions about his death still seems surreal to me. This was the worst period of my life. Meanwhile, Josh's original medical examiner, who performed Josh's autopsy gets fired from Utah's coroner's office, reasons unknown. Then, ten weeks later the phone call comes from the Chief Medical Examiner. Josh's toxicology test finally came back. It was normal. Nothing found in his blood could have killed him. Only trace amounts of the prescribed medications were found and to this day we still don't have a death certificate.
Now the hang-up is the botched autopsy. The original medical examiner’s notes show no bodily trauma. None of the chest contusions that were noted by the clinic, or the broken nose, or fractured ribs. Nothing that could show the assault. He did note however substantial Pulmonary Edema. We have researched pulmonary edema. My wife Cindy is a Registered Nurse. It's cause is blunt trauma to the chest wall, resulting in a growing respiratory lung congestion where fluid builds up in the lungs over a 36 to 48 hour period causing death if untreated. This is what killed Josh.
I have contacted a top criminal attorney in Salt Lake City, as I've been told he's the best guy to put pressure on the Medical Examiner's office and the St. George police Department's District Attorney. I've sent him all the medical record's we obtained from the hospital in St. George, and a copy of the autopsy as he requested. But now it's going on 6 weeks and he won't even return my calls. What's next? The FBI?
Thanks Michael for whatever advice you can offer. We are seeking some form of justice in our son's death and can't rest or feel closure until that happens.
Re: Fw: Crime-Safety-Security.com
From: Michael Loftus
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 12:09:33 AM
To: MRiebehome @aol.com
Hello Michael Riebe,
Try a Google search for a "lawyer referral service" such as www.bbb.org, or a "lawyer directory service," such as www.abanet.org. There are plenty more websites to look through.
Or go to my Crime Survivors - Overview to find Crime Survivor organizations. They are superb grassroots people who've suffered the same heartbreak you have. They’ll advise you on pursuing legal matters.
Of the handful listed there, Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) at www.POMC.com is the largest in the U.S. Their email address: natlpomc@ aol.com, is on the left-hand navigation bar along with many other very useful tabs.
Beyond helping you find a good lawyer in Utah – or another strategy to seek justice and closure – I strongly suggest that you and your family take advantage of POMC's truly expert counseling. They are your kindred spirits.
My heart goes out to you,
P.S. With your permission, I'll publish this in my newsletter and any readers can contact you with advice.
If anyone has advice for the family of Joshua F. Riebe to seek justice and closure, please contact his father, Michael Riebe, at MRiebehome @aol.com (I've added a space to thwart spambots. Delete the space to contact him.)