A young mother was found shot to death in her St. Augustine, Florida, home. The police said Michelle O’Connell killed herself, but the investigation into her death has been controversial ever since.
Since 2000, people all over the country have been talking about what happened and how the investigation was done. The show “Citizen P.I.: Sleuths Under Fire” on Investigation Discovery tells the story of how two private people started to look into Michelle’s death. So, let’s get more information about this case, shall we?
How Did Michelle O’Connell Die?
Michelle was a single mother of a daughter, Alexis, and she was 24 years old. She was said to be a hard-working woman who did everything she could for her daughter. Michelle had worked several jobs before getting a full-time job at a daycare center.
Things were looking up for her. She was dating Jeremy Banks, who was a sheriff’s deputy. On September 2, 2010, late at night, Jeremy called 911 with a scary message.
Around 11:25 PM, Jeremy called to say that he had found Michelle on the floor and that she might have shot herself. When the police went to his house, Michelle was lying face-up on the bedroom floor. She had been shot in the face, and Jeremy’s service gun was found on her left side. A second bullet was found in the carpet by her right arm by the police. At first, the medical examiner said that the death was a suicide. But when more information came out, the case was changed to a murder, even though it was never officially filed.
Who Killed Michelle O’Connell?
The police found out that Michelle, Jeremy, Michelle’s brother Sean, and two other friends had all gone to a concert at a local amphitheater. Jeremy was asked about it in a police car.
He said that the couple had argued before, during, and after the concert. On the way back home, they talked about breaking up, and it seemed like Michelle had made up her mind and was packing her things to leave.
Then Jeremy said he was outside with some friends while Michelle was inside. After his friends left, he was in the garage when he heard a pop. He said that when he ran inside, the bedroom door was locked and he heard a second gunshot. He said that he kicked in the door to see Michelle on the floor with the wound. But at first, some mistakes were written down. Michelle’s purse had empty pill bottles that were written in the name of Jeremy. Michelle’s pockets were where the pills were found.
But the toxicology report showed that Michelle’s body showed no signs of the pills. Family members of the young mother were sure that Michelle could not have killed herself. She had plans to hang out with friends and learn CPR in the days after she died. She, too, was happy about her new job. Instead, they thought that Jeremy was the one who had killed Michelle. There were claims from both partners that there was verbal and physical abuse in the relationship.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement looked into the case on its own about four months after the death. This time, the police found out that two neighbors were outside walking around the time Michelle died. They said they heard people arguing, then a woman calling for help, and then gunshots. When they tested the evidence, they found that there wasn’t any blood on the gun. The police also noticed that it didn’t have any of Jeremy’s DNA or fingerprints on it, which was strange to them.
Even the pill bottles in Michelle’s purse did not have her DNA on them. There was gunshot residue on Jeremy’s hands, but the investigator thought he might have washed his hands before the test. Jeremy said he hadn’t, but the investigator was not convinced. A cut over Michelle’s right eye could have been caused by the gunshot wound that killed her. This cut happened before the fatal gunshot wound. At the end of the independent investigation, the investigator thought Michelle’s death was a murder. The medical examiner had to change the death certificate because of this, but he didn’t file it.
But even with the new information, Jeremy wasn’t charged because the prosecutor thought there wasn’t enough proof. Michelle’s family had an independent pathologist do an autopsy on her body about five and a half years after she died. Michelle’s jaw was broken, which the doctor thought might have been caused by a blow before she was shot. The first autopsy report didn’t say anything about this.
Where is Jeremy Banks Now?
After FDLE’s report came out, Jeremy sued the investigator, Rusty Rodgers, saying that his civil rights had been violated. But a federal judge threw out that case because Rusty had a good reason to look into whether Michelle had been killed. Jeremy had also said earlier that he had read Michelle’s case file, which was kept by the sheriff’s office. But Jeremy has always said that he is not guilty, and he has never been charged with a crime.
Recent news stories say that he still works as a deputy for the Florida St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. Later, when the company looked into Rusty’s work, they found that he had exaggerated some facts and left out others. Two other medical examiners who looked into the case also thought that Michelle had killed herself.