A mother of two was found in her St. Augustine, Florida home with a fatal shot wound. The authorities ruled that it was to be a suicide, but the inquiry into the death of Michelle O’Connell has been the subject of controversy since.
The circumstances surrounding the death and how the investigation was conducted have attracted national attention over the last decade. Investigation Discovery’s “Citizen P.I. Detectives Under Fire” chronicles how two people began to investigate the death of Michelle. Let’s learn more about the case, shall we?
How Did Michelle O’Connell Die?
Michelle was a 24-year-old single mother of a daughter named Alexis. The description she received was of an energetic woman who would do anything to care for her daughter.
Michelle had landed a full-time position at the daycare center after working for a variety of job opportunities. It was getting better for her. Michelle had been engaged to Jeremy Banks, a sheriff’s deputy.
On the evening of September 2nd, 2010, Jeremy called 911 in a distressing phone call. Around 11:25 pm, Jeremy called in to inform him that he had found Michelle on the ground and that she may have killed herself.
The authorities rushed to his home and found Michelle lying face down on the floor in the bedroom. Michelle was shot in the face. The weapon used by Jeremy was located on her left side.
Authorities also found an additional bullet in the carpet under the right side of her arm. The medical examiners’ initial conclusion was that it was suicide. However, after more information was discovered, the ruling was modified to be a homicide, even though it was not officially filed.
Who Killed Michelle O’Connell?
The investigation team discovered the fact that Michelle and Jeremy were at the local amphitheater with Michelle’s brother Sean and a handful of other acquaintances. Jeremy was questioned in a squad car following the incident.
According to the interviewer, the couple had been fighting prior to, during, and following the show. They had discussed breaking apart while driving to their home. It appeared that Michelle was deciding to end things, and was packing items for the move.
After that, Jeremy claimed that he was outside with a group of friends, while Michelle was inside. When the party had left, he was in the garage when he heard the sound of a pop.
According to his story, Jeremy rushed inside to discover the bedroom door was locked and was shocked to hear a second shot. He claims that he kicked the door open to find Michelle lying on the floor, wounded.
But there were some inconsistencies recorded at first. The empty prescription pill bottles bearing the name Jeremy’s were discovered within Michelle’s wallet. The pills were found inside Michelle’s pockets.
The toxicology report showed that there was no trace of the drugs in Michelle’s body. The family of Michelle’s young daughter strongly held that Michelle would not have killed herself.
Michelle had planned to make friends and was planning to enroll in CPR classes during the days following her death. She was also thrilled about her new job. They believed instead that Jeremy had killed Michelle to death.
There were reports made about physical and verbal abuse within the relationship between the two partners. Four months after Michelle’s death, four months after death, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement launched an independent investigation into the incident.
This time, police learned that two neighbors were walking around at the time Michelle died. The neighbors claimed to have heard shouting followed by an elderly woman yelling for help as shots rang out.
After the evidence was submitted for analysis, they discovered that there was no trace of blood in the weapon. Additionally, the gun didn’t have his DNA or fingerprints that were found on the gun, and this struck authorities as odd.
In addition, Michelle’s DNA wasn’t discovered in the pills found in her purse. There was a trace of gunshot residue left on Jeremy’s hands, but the detective believed that he could have had a wash of his hands prior to the test, which Jeremy has denied.
The cut on the right side of Michelle’s eye was found to have occurred prior to her fatal wound from a gun and could be the result of the gun. The independent investigation concluded with the investigator concluding that Michelle’s death was an act of homicide.
The medical examiner was able to alter her death record; however, he did not officially record the amendment. However, despite the findings, there weren’t charges brought against Jeremy as the prosecutor thought that there was insufficient evidence.
In the five and a half months after Michelle’s passing, her family sought out an independent pathologist to do an autopsy on her body. The pathologist discovered that Michelle suffered a jaw bone fracture that could have been the result of an impact before she was shot.
The fracture was not noted in the autopsy report that was initially released.
Where is Jeremy Banks Now?
Following the FDLE’s findings were presented, Jeremy filed a lawsuit against the investigator, Rusty Rodgers, arguing that his rights as a citizen were violated.
However, the lawsuit has been rejected by a federal judge who decided that Rusty was likely to determine if Michelle was killed. In the past, Jeremy had also admitted to having read Michelle’s case dossier that was kept by the Sheriff’s Department.
But Jeremy has maintained his innocence and was never accused of any criminal offense. Recent reports indicate that he’s still working for his employer, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, as a deputy.
A probe into Rusty’s activities afterward discovered the fact that he had overstated some details and left out certain particular details. The two other doctors looking at the incident also believed that Michelle was the one who killed herself.