Family Claims Daughter Was Murdered, Despite Death Legally Being Ruled Suicide

On September 2, 2010, Michelle O'Connell was found dead in her home after her boyfriend Jeremy Banks called 911 to report that his girlfriend had shot herself, and her death was ruled as a suicide. Six years later, O'Connell's family refuses to accept this scenario and continue to pursue justice for their daughter, who they believe was murdered by Banks.

24-year-old O'Connell was found in the bedroom she shared with Banks with a gunshot wound to the back of the throat and Banks' gun at her side. Banks was a sheriff's deputy in the St. Augustine, FL area, and the gun in question was his service weapon.

Two days later, St. Johns County Medical Examiner Dr. Frederick Hobin declared her death a suicide by gunshot. However, he later changed his opinion to rule the death as a homicide. A special prosecutor's investigator looked into the case, but they didn't find enough evidence to confirm the homicide, ruling it once again as a suicide and the case was closed in March of 2012.

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That evening, Banks placed a call to 911 saying, "My girlfriend — I think she just shot herself." Banks denies having any involvement in the fatal injury, and investigators claimed they had no reason to suspect Banks. Earlier this year, pathologist Dr. William Anderson performed another autopsy on the exhumed body at the request of the family, and his examination found that Michelle had a broken jaw, a detail omitted from Hobin's initial report.

Anderson told PEOPLE, "The most reasonable explanation is that a hit in the jaw with a fist created the mandible fracture."

Michelle's relatives said there was no history of depression and refuse to believe that she would have left her young daughter, Alexis, without a mother. In addition to those doubts, friends of Michelle claimed that she was planning on leaving Banks around the same time that she died.

Despite these strange details, Banks' attorney has pointed out that "three separate state attorneys" all came to the same conclusion, which was that Michelle killed herself.

"The information presented is nothing new and all was reviewed during the initial autopsy," said St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar, adding, "a few family members who will go to any lengths to maintain their moment in the spotlight."

The family, however, remains steadfast, saying, "Our family is not going to be quiet."


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