Paramedics and MPs were called to the man’s home at around 3 a.m. on April 25, according to a press release. When they arrived they found Martin dead in the attic. Madison County’s Sheriff Katy McCutcheon said the first autopsy indicated Martin had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reviewed the county investigation and approved the original suicide decision. The press release did not state who the weapon in question belonged to. There was also no detailed description of how Martin might have obtained the weapon.
Rev. Darryl Gray, a leader in the St. Louis, Missouri, area insisted that at least “negligence” was involved. “The whole thing is, it was a suspicious death,” explained Gray. “How and why did Derontae end up at that party in the house and how did he end up in the attic?”
Martin’s mother, Ericka Lotts, said: “I only know that someone shot him.” She mentioned that Martin, who was right-handed, had a cast on his right arm that was broken at the time of his death. Lotts said she had heard several different reports of what happened and didn’t know what to believe.
According to local outlet KMOV 4, Lotts said her son has no known connection to the owner of the house where he was found dead. Lotts said her son had traveled to Fredericktown, about 30 miles from his birthplace, and was found dead in the house near Highway Z. “I told them he wasn’t suicidal,” Lotts said. “He was too happy to commit suicide.”
“He was a very loving, fun kid,” said Martin’s grandmother, Kimberly Lotts. “He was a loyal, loyal friend to those who were important to him.”
“There are too many questions and too few answers,” Gray told KMOV 4. “So I believe it’s a questionable death. … It’s a suspicious death.” Gray and Martin’s family met with the district attorney to request an additional investigation from the attorney general. Nobody was charged or arrested.
You can watch short interview clips with Lotts and Gray below.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 and is always free and confidential. Additionally, here is a round-up of free mental health resources.