By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item
MIDDLEBURG -- Relatives of a 29-year-old inmate who Snyder County authorities say committed suicide in the county jail nearly five year ago have enlisted a nationally known forensic pathologist who says Jeremy Dock's injuries suggest that his cause of death should have been described as "undetermined."
Dock's parents, Jeffrey Dock, of Beavertown, and Linda Reichenbach, of Middleburg, plan to approach the U.S. Attorney's office to review Cyril Wecht's findings.
The U.S. Supreme Court this week denied an appeal filed by Dock and Reichenbach after
their civil lawsuit against the county -- contending their son was murdered while serving time in Snyder County Jail on April 17, 2007 -- was dismissed in federal court.
Dock and Reichenbach claim their son was killed inside the prison after he was exposed as a snitch cooperating in a police investigation into drug smuggling at the facility.
Parents spend $30,000
They've spent about $30,000 pursuing the case in the courts to no avail with Harrisburg attorney Don Bailey, who is now facing disbarment because of an unrelated case.
In the fall of 2010, they appealed to the Snyder County prison board to review evidence they claimed revealed Jeremy Dock's death was not suicide, as listed by forensic pathologist Barbara Bollinger, of Easton.
District Attorney Michael Piecuch, who was not in office at the time of the young man's death, said he would review any new evidence with them.
On Thursday, Dock, Reichenbach and four other family members and friends appeared before the prison board again, this time armed with a copy of the Feb. 14, 2011, report submitted by Wecht following an autopsy he performed a few days after Bollinger.
Wecht, a Pittsburgh-based pathologist who has performed more than 14,000 autopsies and consulted on high-profile cases involving Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Jon Benet Ramsey, said that while Dock's death was due to asphyxiation from hanging, it should not have been ruled suicide because of the numerous abrasions and cuts on Dock's face, head and arms.
"It is quite difficult to comprehend how he would have sustained all the injuries. ... The manner of death should have been left as undetermined in order to have further investigation," Wecht said.
Findings do not influence
Wecht's findings did not sway the entire prison board.
"I believe all this information has been presented to the courts. It went all the way to the Supreme Court. You've exhausted your appellate rights," board chairman Malcolm Derk said.
Vice chairman Joe Kantz said he doubted the Dock family would ever be satisfied with answers that don't support their belief that Jeremy Dock was murdered.
Receptive to hearing the family, Sheriff Joe Reigle Jr. asked solicitor Robert Cravitz whether the board could request a new investigation or ask the U.S. Attorney to hear it.
"You could, but we've already gone through our investigation," Cravitz said, adding that since Dock and Reichenbach have alleged the case was tainted by former county prosecutor Michael Sholley, state police and members of the state Attorney General's Office, the board should not get involved.
Piecuch, who encouraged Dock and Reichenbach to contact the U.S. Attorney on their own and request a new review, added: "No one around this table believes there was a coverup."
Dock, who has a website devoted to his search for answers about his son's death, said he can't let the case rest.
"We're not here because we're in denial," he said. "We're here because the evidence says Jeremy didn't" commit suicide.
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