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Army Veteran Found Hanged In A Suburban Philadelphia Park; His Family Is Refusing The “Suicide” Tag By Police

Army Veteran Found Hanged In A Suburban Philadelphia Park; His Family Is Refusing The “Suicide” Tag By Police

Last week, a U.S. Army veteran who had reportedly been strangled was discovered dead in a suburban Philadelphia Park. The man’s family is now complaining that the coroner has hastily ruled the death a suicide, according to them.

Relatives are requesting that the case be treated as a criminal investigation based on their knowledge of the police’s position regarding the man’s death.

According to the Whitpain Township Police Department, the ex-soldier’s death is still under investigation and his family was never informed of the cause of death.

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Around 7:45 a.m. on June 17, Donté Perez Jones was discovered in Wentz Run Park in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, by someone walking along a trail.

 Police Chief Kenneth Lawson reports that the person spotted “a man leaning against a piece of playground equipment.”

Jones was “unresponsive” when an officer and paramedic were called to the scene by the individual who had alerted the precinct’s officers.

The Montgomery County Coroner was summoned after realizing his condition. According to police, they “conducted a grid search of the area” and blocked off a sizable portion of Wentz Run Park.

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However, the site investigators “discovered nothing odd” in relation to Jones’ death during this search.

According to the man’s family, police reached out to his mother, LaTina Dean, and informed her that the father of three had killed himself.

Dean says that she last saw her son on June 16 at about 11:40 p.m. when he paid her a visit. Jones apparently resided in Delaware County, which is about an hour away from Blue Bell, where his body was discovered.

Dean took to social media the following day, Saturday, June 18, to spread the word about her son’s passing because she was dissatisfied with the way the WPD was treating his death. She advocated for law enforcement to treat Jones’s death as a lynching, and she informed the public of her suspicion that the department was hiding Jones’s killing from the public.

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One male family member described the restrictions the police put on them when they arrived to identify him while they were in the playground where he was discovered, saying in a video, “They wouldn’t let you identify the body. They wouldn’t let you examine his body to check for any signs of any kind. You were unable to examine his neck to determine whether he was hanged. You were unable to verify whether he was wearing handcuffs, look for any form of marks on his complete body, or even confirm that it was your son.

The man concluded his statement with, “But then tell you, take my word for it.”

“There are far more details that point to that this was a murder,” Dean continues.

And a cover-up, say the voices in the background.

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You just witnessed a Black man hanging, she says as she gestures to the slide,  you take him down after which you claim he committed suicide. That is not logical at all.

“And then you have an event here at 2 o’clock?” she asks. “Is that what we do? The same day.”

“You didn’t respect my son enough to cancel the event,” I said. Dean queries.

His feet were touching the ground, despite family members’ claims that he had been hanged, and his wallet was missing. The mother said that his identification card and keys were the only personal belongings discovered at the location of his death.

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She says in the 4:39 video that a female officer informed her that the death had been “declared a suicide, it was closed” and that the department would not be conducting an autopsy.

Dean says that when she was informed of this, she reacted angrily and demanded that an autopsy be performed in case her son had been given drugs or been sedated. She also requested permission to see her son. The grieving mother insists that neither a physical viewing of him nor a picture of his body have been permitted.

The family members think that between the time the cameras were first installed and the next day, they were repositioned.

Dean remarked, “This is an intelligent man who attended Shippensburg [University] for undergrad and grad. I told him, “No, you need to go to school and obtain an education because that’s one thing they can’t take from you. He’s educated, he’s brilliant, he went into the military, and he wanted to go there first. I was unaware of how to warn him that they could kill him.

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How come you have no responses for me?  How can you treat me with such insensitivity? And this is the country he fought for?” she said.

Jones’ mother enumerated all the ways he gave up his life for and protected the United States over the course of six years, saying she is perplexed by how he is being handled in death. She wrote, “Donte honored and served his nation in the United States Army, he deserves to be handled with dignity and respect while his family prepares to lay him to rest,” in a copy of her GoFundMe profile.

The family is requesting support for his funeral service as well as to “get an independent autopsy and legal advice.”

She expressed more worries about his passing by asking, “Why would Donté travel an hour away at midnight to a mysterious village in the middle of the woods and utilize a rear door to get to the park where they assume he came to commit suicide?… IS IT NOT SUSPICIOUS THAT A BLACK MAN WAS FOUND HANGED ON JUNETEENTH WEEKEND IN A PREDOMINANTLY WHITE NEIGHBORHOOD?

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The WPD refutes the assertion that the family was informed the case was closed and disputes the assertion that his death was determined to be a suicide in a statement issued on Tuesday, June 21. The declaration refutes the assertion that Jones would not undergo an autopsy.

The force also expressed “its heartfelt sympathies to the family, children, and friends” of the deceased in addition to reporting the continuing autopsy.

“Mr. Jones was a son, a father, a veteran of the Army, and a resident of Sharon Hilly. We sincerely regret this loss, part of the message read.

“The Whitpain Police Department did not indicate that the inquiry is over. The investigation into Mr. Jones’ death is still open. As with any incident of a like nature, we are treating this issue seriously. The Whitpain Police Department wants to speak with anyone who may be able to provide them with information on the incident.

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The inquiry won’t be over until the Montgomery County Coroner’s Officer produces a report detailing the circumstances surrounding Mr. Jones’s passing.

To find out what happened to their loved one, the family has contacted state politicians, NAACP leaders, and government officials.

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