Thursday, November 23, 2017
Public safety

Bones left at scene of apparent suicide near Brookridge prompt investigation

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BROOKSVILLE — The case of the human remains found near Brookridge last week seemed to go like a textbook might suggest it should.

Investigators with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office and 5th District Medical Examiner's Office responded, investigated and collected the bones. The preliminary findings: 20-year-old Brian Adam Gilley, missing since January, committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree.

There was a problem, though. Investigators apparently left some of Gilley's bones at the scene.

Now authorities with both agencies are trying to figure out how it happened.

"It's unacceptable," Hernando Chief Deputy Michael Maurer said Wednesday. "It's just not the way we do business, and we want to know why it happened and make sure it never happens again."

Maurer said there was a breakdown in protocol between his agency and the Medical Examiner's Office.

"There's stopgaps and checks and balances, and what we don't understand yet is how that perfect storm came together and this happened," he said. "It defies logic for me."

He said he didn't know Wednesday if the bones — a hand and forearm — were missed during the initial investigation or were simply left behind.

But it doesn't seem plausible that they were missed, Maurer said, because they were found in the immediate vicinity of the rest of the remains.

Deputies initially responded to the area about 6:30 p.m. March 13 after a passerby discovered the remains in a low-lying stand of trees between a concrete retaining wall and the white privacy fence that lines the southern edge of Brookridge.

Forensics technicians investigated, and the medical examiner arrived about 9:30 p.m. and took the remains to establish the person's identity.

On Tuesday, a representative from a local news blog went to the scene, discovered the bones and called the Sheriff's Office. Investigators returned and collected them.

Making sure the remains were removed from a scene during the first visit is the responsibility of both agencies, Maurer said.

He spoke Wednesday with Dr. Barbara Wolf, medical examiner for the 5th District, who is conducting her own investigation.

Messages left by the Times at Wolf's office in Leesburg were not returned.

The Sheriff's Office internal inquiry could result in disciplinary action up to dismissal, Maurer said.

A Maryland native, Gilley moved in December to his stepfather Wayne Gilley's home in Brookridge.

Brian worked in the deli at the Walmart store on Cortez Boulevard. He was well liked and loved playing the acoustic guitar, Wayne Gilley said.

"I didn't see any signs he wasn't happy here," he said.

Then Brian disappeared, and Wayne Gilley found a suicide note. He filed a missing person report with the Sheriff's Office on Jan. 18, but feared the worst.

"I tried to prepare myself for the day they'd come to knock on the door, but you can't prepare yourself for that," he said.

Wayne Gilley said the news that some of Brian's remains were left behind upset him.

"But the worst part was knowing he's gone," he said.

Brian's remains will be cremated and laid to rest next week in Rising Sun, Md., a small town between the Chesapeake Bay and the Pennsylvania border.

Reach Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes and @hernandotimes on Twitter.

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