Many questions remain over whether the police’s preliminary conclusions on the Philip Marshall case are in fact accurate
“The last facial expression is essential in determining the state of condition that the person was in when they died.”
– Chris Gordon
Investigative researcher Chris Gordon from We Are Change San Francisco spoke to the coroner of Philip Marshall and his two teenage children. Chris Gordon called Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio this Tuesday to ask some questions about the conspiracy theories surrounding the alleged double-murder suicide.
The first question Chris asked the coroner was why neighbors didn’t hear any gun shots. There are five houses within close-vicinity of the Marshall home. A neighbor across the street said he heard two “suspicious” noises on Friday night, February 1st, 2013, one day before the bodies of Philip, Alex, and Macaila Marshall were found.
The Marshall house sits on a ridge-top facing the Stanislaus river canyon. Mr. Raggio pointed out there’s a long drive-way in front the house, which is about 30 or 40 feet off the road of Sandalwood Drive. In response to why neighbors didn’t hear any gun shots, Raggio told Chris, “You have to walk past the garage to get into the house. The house is all double-pane windows. So with the door closed, you’ve got a big garage there, number one, that’s gonna insulate the sound. You’ve got a big substantial front door on the house, all dual-pane windows…you’re not gonna hear much.”
Sgt. Chris Hewitt of the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office came to a similar conclusion, “The houses are not very close together and if they are well built and insulated with all the windows and doors closed, the shots would have been muffled.”
The coroner told Chris that gun shots “would probably be more louder towards the front of the house. In front of the house, there’s nothing in front of them but a remote river canyon and probably nobody for twenty miles.” I wonder if the echo from the gun shots would carry across the canyon, at least towards the houses in the back of the above photo.
Raggio also mentioned the neighbor across the street from the Marshall home, who heard two suspicious noises on Friday night. “There was a neighbor that did hear something strange that night,” Raggio told Chris. “The neighbor across the street heard something that got his attention, but him being in his house and the shots going off inside [the Marshall home], you probably wouldn’t notice.”
The neighbor, Jeff Woods, heard something strange twice in the same night, but didn’t specify if the noises sounded like gun shots. According to Joel Metzger’s article, Woods was in a downstairs room with the television on “in the background when I heard an unusual noise. I stopped working and went upstairs, turned the lights on and looked around. I didn’t hear anything else, so I went back downstairs. Not too long after that, I heard another strange noise. I muted the television and listened for a second without hearing anything else.”
When Chris Gordon asked Mr. Raggio if he thought Wood’s comment had any credence, Raggio responded, “Yeah why wouldn’t it?” Exactly what type of strange noises did Mr. Woods hear?
In Your Face
“That last facial expression is gonna be marked on your face.” – Chris Gordon
Chris Gordon then steered the conversation towards the two teenagers. Both Alex and Macaila were found on a U-shaped couch (a couch that was most likely removed from the home on Super Bowl Sunday) apparently sleeping.
Chris asked why the gun shots did not wake up one of the children. “That, I don’t know. That, I don’t know at this point. That’s something I’d like to think that they didn’t hear…I don’t know if they did or didn’t…the first one probably didn’t hear anything, cause I suspect they were probably asleep. So maybe one of them did hear. I don’t know.”“The last facial expression is essential in determining the state of condition that the person was in when they died.” – Chris Gordon
Raggio echoed what police have been saying, “As far as I know there was no silencer of any kind.”
Chris then wondered how one of the two would not wake up to the sound of a gun shot that was a few feet from their ears. “Do you find that suspicious at all?”
Chris clarified his question, “You don’t find it suspicious that a gun shot wouldn’t wake up a child?”
“Well, not, I don’t in looking at the scene. I mean, yeah, it’s mysterious in my mind, but I don’t find it suspicious. As far as…it makes me wonder, you know. Like I said, it’s mysterious. It makes me wonder, you know, if one of them heard anything. But do I find it suspicious? I don’t find it suspicious. I don’t suspect that, from what I can see. It is what, what they, you know, what we determined it was. You know, murder suicide.”
Who is “They”? Or did the coroner simply misspeak before he corrected himself in saying “we” determined the cause of death. How many people does it take to determine the cause of death? From my understanding only the coroner determines this? Not they or we.
The next question was if there a suicide note found at the crime scene? The coroner responded, “Not to my knowledge no…my job is to determine the cause of death. I don’t deal with the criminal aspect of the whole thing.” The autopsy determined that all Philip Marshall, Alex Marshall, Macaila Marshall and the family dog died from a single gun shot wound to the head. Raggio confirms it’s his job to determine the cause of death. is it possible someone was helping him decide what happened here? At this point I don’t know.
Mr. Raggio believes this was a double-murder suicide. “It appears to be what it is.”
Chris then asked about the evidence for the murder-suicide since there was no suicide note. “Well the one thing I will tell you and then you’ll probably have to get the rest from the sheriff’s office but, when you shoot yourself, you’re standing up, there’s a considerable amount of blood splatter that goes every direction…the blood splatter, unless somebody was floating, they would of, in my mind, had to of tracked in the blood splatter.”
Marshall was standing up when he allegedly shot himself? “So from your determination, it seemed like Marshall was standing up when he shot himself?”
Kevin Raggio also doesn’t believe a foreign country, like Saudi Arabia, staged the deaths to appear as a double-murder suicide. “I’ve heard all these conspiracy theories and all this other stuff, in my mind if you’re a foreign country, for instance, and you’re coming after Philip Marshall…you’d send somebody in. I’m Italian so I’d send for the boys in Sicily and they’d come in and you know. You know what I mean? It’d be like Sopranos. The boy from Italy [would] come and he doesn’t give a damn if it looks like a murder-suicide or not. They’re gonna put bullets in your head and they’re gonna leave, and that’s gonna be it. But in this case, why would you go out of your way to stage it as a murder-suicide?”
According to a Santa Barbara View exclusive, Philip Marshall expressed concern for his life, but he wasn’t worried about a foreign country. He was more concerned about people inside the United States. “During the editing and pre-marketing process of Marshall’s book, he expressed some degree of paranoia because the nonfiction work accused the George W. Bush administration of being in cahoots with the Saudi intelligence community in training the hijackers who died in the planes used in the attacks.”
That’s the biggest question of all for me. If this was a plot to kill Philip Marshall, why did they have to take out his two innocent children and the family dog? Also, where is their cat? (The next article will deal with the missing cat.)
Chris Gordon thanked Mr. Raggio for his time, and for answering the questions to the best of his ability. “I’m not an expert,” Raggio told him. “I just happen to be the guy who has to be coroner here.” He said the Calaveras County Sheriff’s office “is doing a very thorough investigation…in light of these conspiracy theories, so forth, I know they’ve gone, taken some extra steps. And you’d have to ask them to elaborate on that. That’s about all I can tell you.”
Chris Gordon has assured me he is going to keep asking questions about the strange anomalies in this case. Chris is not satisfied with the official story given to the public. Neither am I. How about you? In the near future, we will try to find out more about these “extra steps” the authorities have taken.
Chris Gordon noticed that autopsy reports can be purchased for $10. He asked Raggio, “Is it possible that we could purchase an autopsy report for Philip Marshall?”
“I think you could probably, eventually yeah.”
“It’s not available as of yet?”
“Not yet. No.”
“Do you have an idea of when it would be?”
“At this point, No.”
Chris Gordon has worked at five different mortuaries. He’s seen a lot of dead bodies up-close. He says part of the answer to this case could be found on the facial expressions of the deceased. “It would be very easy to determine if one of the kids were woken up by the gun shot going off six feet away by their facial expression.”
After the interview with the coroner was over Chris told me, “It’s easy to tell if someone was sleeping when they died. Their eyes would be closed. That was probably how they were able to determine so quickly that the children were sleeping. If they appeared to be sleeping, they probably were found with their eyes closed.”
What if someone just changed the facial expressions after killing the four family members? “I’m a mortician,” Chris told me. “I make people’s shocked and traumatic faces look like they’re sleeping. It’s a process.”
But surely a professional or professionals could have manipulated their faces to make it appear as if they were sleeping right? “If it was done it would leave a trail. You’d be able to determine that.”
Since the police ruled out foul-play early on, I doubt they are investigating any leads that may point in that direction. Perhaps they won’t investigate the many questions we still have, but that won’t stop us from doing so. We will attempt to reach Sgt. Chris Hewitt with a list of unanswered questions.
It’s been over a month since the tragedy happened and we still have no clear motive for the allegations against Philip Marshall.
I’m getting a little impatient awaiting the toxicology report. Chris explained to me, “In cases like this, where there’s suspicious death, the coroner has to remove the vital organs, take samples, and then send them off to a lab to determine whether or not there were drugs in the system of the deceased.”
As we wait for the toxicology results, we still don’t know if the police can prove Philip Marshall fired a weapon in the final days of his life. A ballistic test would quickly determine if Philip Marshall fired his 9mm Glock pistol sometime between January 31 and February 2nd, when the bodies were found. I hope the Calaveras County Sheriff’s office will be able to prove their theory about the double-murder suicide. They alleged this was a double-murder suicide within hours of finding the four bodies.
The coroner believes Marshall was standing up when he shot himself. Marshall was found in a pool of blood lying face up. If Marshall shot himself then fell to the ground, he would have head wounds to help prove that. Wayne Madsen reported Marshall was right-handed, yet the police say he shot himself on the left-side of his head. It’s clear to me there’s more questions than answers in this case.
It’s our job to seek the answers. Our investigation continues…