It could be four to six weeks until the family of Columbus shooting victim Cary Owsley learns the results of his autopsy, his sister said.
The body of Owsley was exhumed from Garland Brook Cemetery about 9 a.m. Wednesday, after which it was taken to a private location for an autopsy to be performed, said Cheryl Jackson, a former newspaper and TV reporter and Cary Owsley’s only sibling.
She said she hopes the autopsy will shed light on how her brother died.
“We had campaigned for this moment. While we were overwhelmed with grief, we felt today was a victory for us,” Jackson said late Wednesday
She watched her brother’s casket be exhumed, along with her nephew Logan Owsley, the son of Cary Owsley; and one of her attorneys, Trent McCain of Merrillville.
Based on orders from Bartholomew Circuit Judge Stephen Heimann, the autopsy was to have begun in the early afternoon, with Owsley’s body returned to the cemetery for reburial today.
The autopsy was completed early Wednesday evening, with tissue samples and toxicology tests conducted, Jackson said.
The court had kept many details of the autopsy secret, including where it would be conducted.
Jackson said she knew where the examination was done but was barred from revealing the location.
She said McCain followed the body to the autopsy laboratory and was an observer.
Jackson called the day’s events bittersweet.
She filed a civil lawsuit last year seeking the right to exhume the body of her 49-year-old brother so forensic tests could be conducted on his remains.
Jackson and other family members want to learn from medical experts whether evidence would show that he was the victim of foul play and not a suicide as the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department and the coroner ruled after his April 7 shooting death last year.
Attorneys for Jackson deposited $17,490 in a Bartholomew County account to cover many of the costs of removing the body and conducting the autopsy.
Last year, after Owsley’s body was found, Coroner Larry Fisher did not perform an autopsy, saying at the time that he believed the shooting scene made it obvious Owsley had taken his own life at his home on Roosevelt Street.
However, Jackson maintains her brother never would have killed himself.
She contends the coroner’s office and Sheriff’s Department bungled the death scene investigation by losing or mishandling much of the evidence last spring. Three deputies were reprimanded by Sheriff Mark Gorbett last year for inappropriate actions during the
Before and after filing the lawsuit, Jackson waged a social-media campaign and organized public rallies calling for a review of evidence and an autopsy to provide justice for her late brother.
Dr. Scott Wagner, a forensic pathologist from Fort Wayne, was retained by the court to jointly oversee the autopsy along with Dr. Werner Spitz of St. Clair Shores, Mich., a forensic specialist hired by Owsley’s family.
Other participants in the autopsy were to include Fort Wayne-based D.O. McComb & Sons funeral home, selected to transport Owsley’s body and casket to the autopsy site; and Dr. Thomas J. Sozio and a medical student assistant, both of whom were authorized to be inside the autopsy room as observers for the county coroner’s office.
As family members — including Owsley’s mother, Rosemary Pennybaker; and son, Logan — approach the one-year anniversary since Cary Owsley’s death, Jackson said they are looking forward to a day when they “will be able to focus on the good memories” of their loved one’s life and the times they shared.
“My brother had the best heart,” she said.