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Man committed suicide after drug arrest

Courtney Astolfi • Aug 6, 2013 at 9:13 AM

His left hand was at his side; his right was under his body.

When deputies turned the body over, they found a hunting knife with a 9-inch blade buried to the hilt straight into his heart.

Lucas County deputy coroner Cynthia Beisser ruled his death a suicide. 

“Montgomery died of a stab wound to the chest,” Beisser stated in her report. The manner of death is marked “suicide,” and Beisser noted the “deceased stabbed himself.”

Nowhere in Beisser's report does she tie the blade in Montgomery's heart to the hand at the end of his arm. Her report describes the physical characteristics of the body, but it does not mention how she concluded the wound was self-inflicted.

“I don't know how it would be possible that anybody could do that to themselves. I just don't understand it,” said Jason Montgomery, Greg's father.

The last time Jason saw his son was Aug. 8. Greg left his parents' home at about 2 p.m. and texted them that evening, but he didn't answer their calls.

The following day, after they still couldn't reach him, Jason and his other son, Jeff, called the Huron County Sheriff's Office to report Greg as a missing person.

Deputies “pinged” Greg's phone and learned it was somewhere near Vickery. The hunt continued, with Sandusky County deputies taking over the search.

At 4:40 a.m. Aug. 10, deputies located Greg's red GMC pickup near Township Road 263 and Township Road 298.

They found his body about 100 feet east of his truck, on a path between a cornfield and a tree line.

The deputies collected evidence.


Follow the links to read all four parts: 

Autopsy by design

Craig Burdine, sudden death and its causes

Gregory Montgomery, death by suicide despite objections

Deputy coroner's deadly details and difficult questions 

Click here for a photo gallery with more information about the people involved and impacted by the investigations into the killing of Jacob Limberios. 


Text messages

Sandusky County Sheriff's Capt. Sean O'Connell was the lead detective who investigated Montgomery's death. He declined comment for this story.


But the case file he compiled includes a transcript and photos of two text messages Montgomery apparently addressed to his friend, Cory Ward.


Part of one text appears to grant his friend a few of his personal belongings, a message Sandusky County Chief Deputy Bruce Hirt suggested led deputies to believe it was a suicide.


But other parts of the message don't seem to align as neatly.


“Was not joking when I said somebody was tring 2 kill me this morning,” the same text states.


Another text suggested a different possibility other than suicide: “What realy sucks no one can hear me over the phone cause my wife was tring 2 kill me I know shes tryed it be4 mom I love u cant 4get my past I cant do it anymore laurie or joe reed frame me.”


While the information was included in the report, neither O'Connell nor Beisser addressed the implications of those two messages.


Cigarette butts


Investigators photographed a pile of cigarette butts that were found a few feet from the road near Montgomery's truck.


About 30 Marlboro butts laid on the gravel. Some filters were scarred with burn marks, as if still-burning cigarettes were thrown onto a growing pile of butts.


Montgomery, however, was found with multiple packs of Pall Mall cigarettes. Three Pall Mall butts were found near his legs.


The reports in the case file don't address the two different brands of cigarette butts found at the scene. Investigators did photograph the Pall Mall cigarettes found near the body, as well as the Marlboro cigarette butts found near the truck, but in their reports, they made no comments about the different brands. 


The knife


When deputies turned over Montgomery's body, they found only the right thumb looped over the blade's handle.


Deputies and Beisser did not address the positioning of the knife in their reports. A right-handed Montgomery might have held the knife backward from the direction of the finger grip when he buried it into his heart, but there was no explanation in the reports that addressed the positioning of the knife.


Death in the details


Jason and Jeff Montgomery spent most of Aug. 9 conducting their own search for Greg as sheriff's deputies also searched. He was grateful, Jason said, that sheriff's deputies worked so hard trying to locate Greg, and they did find him.


But the followup was unsettling, he said.


"They didn't ask us any kind of questions — none whatsoever," Jason said. "They just said how they found the body and that's about it."


In the days before he disappeared, Greg told family members the same thing he said in the troubled text messages, Jason said.


"He said, 'They're after me,'" Jason said. "I told him, 'Put the truck in the barn and lock the door.'" 


Greg also told his own son that there were people trying to kill him, Jason said.


Deputies apparently discounted the text messages about Greg's fears that someone was trying to kill him, and they never asked Greg's parents if he ever exhibited any suicidal tendencies, according to Jason and the evidence in the case file. 


Instead, deputies relied on the text messages that they said suggested Greg had committed suicide. They did not address the portions of the text messages that appeared contrary to this conclusion.


They also determined there were no defensive wounds on the body. 


Hirt said investigators also relied on information Greg's wife provided in reaching the conclusion it was a suicide. The information about what his wife said was limited in the reports.


“(She) felt that Gregory had been using suspected bath salts and other illegal controlled substance,” the reports state. “He had become irate at home and had been upset with the current charges pending.”


The final paragraph in O'Connell's reports states: “I spoke with Dr. Cynthia Beieser from the Lucas County Coroner's Office. The injuries appear to be self-inflicted. The Knife had punctured the heart and may have embedded further after the initial puncture and Montgomery falling on top of the knife.”


The autopsy was conducted by Lucas County deputy coroner Cynthia Beisser, and her report was issued about two months later, reflecting the information O'Connell had provided her.


Drug charges


At his time of death, Montgomery and his son, Ty, were out on bail and awaiting Huron County court action on felony drug charges.


They were arrested five months prior, in April 2012, in what deputies described at the time as possibly the largest pill bust ever in Huron County. Deputies had received a tip from Fremont that led them to Greg Montgomery's house, where they reportedly found hundreds of ecstasy pills.


Greg maintained his innocence, Jason said.


"He told us, 'Mom and Dad, all I want to prove is I knew nothing about none of this,'” Jason said.


The charges against Greg's son were eventually dropped. Huron County prosecutor Russ Leffler said a myriad of factors led to that decision. Ty's fingerprints weren't found on the seized items, nor were they stored at his residence — only Greg's, he said, and Ty was arrested at a different location than his father's home.


Leffler said a case may have been made if the Fremont tipster testified in court, but Sandusky County deputies were hesitant to lose a confidential source by outing the person in a courtroom.


Greg Montgomery also suggested in one of the last texts from his phone that a man named Joe Reed had framed him in the drug arrest. 


Joe Reed died Feb. 18, about six months after Greg was killed. Reed's death was related to drug withdrawal, according to an autopsy report, which lists the cause of death as "methadone toxicity."


Hirt declined to discuss the Reed case at length, citing the ongoing investigation. 

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