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JonathanVonErich

Strange Case: Capt. Michael O'Mara

26 posts in this topic

On this day, 24 years ago, Michael O'Mara died in mysterious circumstances. Was it murder or suicide ?? 24 years later we still have no answers to this mystery. A strange but fascinating case.

une_capt_michael_omara1.jpgMichael O'Mara

To those who knew him best, Captain Michael O’Mara was the straightest of straight arrows. He was a devoted husband, a loving father, and the only officer in the Cook County Sheriff’s Police trained at the FBI Academy. In the 1960s, O’Mara became famous for leading raids on the Illinois Mafia. By 1988, Michael had been moved to a desk job in the records department and was getting ready for a quiet retirement. It should have been the gentle twilight of a brilliant career, but it never happened.

On May 30th, 1988, a patrolman pulled into the private service area at the Cook County Courthouse to gas up his car. An unmarked police car was parked at the pump, with the gas nozzle in the tank. There was no officer in sight. As the patrolman’s flashlight searched the lawn around the service area, he caught a glimpse of a gruesome scene. Michael O’Mara’s body was slumped over a rock in the middle of the lawn. He had been shot once through the forehead. James Houlihan, a Sergeant for the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department, was one of the first officers to arrive on the scene: “You approach a death scene as possibly a homicide initially. There was a gun to the right side of the body near the right hand. And there was a very visible gunshot wound to the forehead. There was a flashlight found next to a rock that we can identify as his flashlight. The gun is his gun. And there was one bullet that was discharged from that cylinder of that weapon. The victim’s pockets were intact. His money was intact. His car was intact. If you were going to weight this, there would be more weight towards a suicide or an accident than there would be towards a murder.”

Two weeks after Michael O’Mara died, the Coroner determined his death was a suicide. Michael’s friends and family felt there had been a rush to judgment. Despite the coroner’s ruling, they were convinced that Michael had been murdered. Based on his investigation, Dr. DiMaio believes that Michael was murdered: “The evidence at the scene suggests that Mr. O’Mara began to fill the tank of his car when he saw or heard something in field. He then took the gun from his briefcase and went to investigate. When he got into the field, he met somebody or a number of people and he was shot.”

If Michael O’Mara was murdered, what was the motive? Could it have been a long lost enemy from the past? The police still stay Michael’s death was a suicide and consider the case closed. But Dr. DiMaio points to one additional fact that he believes rules out suicide: “When people shoot themselves, they tend to put the gun firmly against the head at the time of discharge. In this case the muzzle of the weapon was between two and four inches away from the skin and you could see that by the powder tattooing on the skin around the entrance wound.”

What happened to Captain Michael O’Mara on the night of May 30th, 1988? Is it possible he chose to end his own life? Or is his killer still at large? His friends and family believe the answer is obvious. Michael O’Mara was not a man to commit suicide.

Unsolved Mysteries episode about the case:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1nyZ2ccuYE

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Hmm most often they say the most obvious explanation is the one that is most likely true! Who knows what we might think in this case. It might have been the mafia?

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Posted (edited)

Hmm most often they say the most obvious explanation is the one that is most likely true! Who knows what we might think in this case. It might have been the mafia?

Possible, after all mr. O'Mara was behind many raids against the Mafia from Illinois, it's possible that he had enemys.

The question I have is: If indeed it was suicide, why would he bring his flashlight with him ?? And why would he kill himself while pumping gas ( the gas nozzle was still in the tank when the body was found ) ?? The way the body was found ( slumped over a rock in the middle of the lawn ) looks like the body might have been placed there by somebody, I just can't imagine somebody shooting himself in the head while being in that position, or can't believe that his body felt in that position.

Also his wife said that before he left the house, Michael said he was going to buy yogurt, then asked her what flavor she wanted. If he was going to kill himself why would he talk about buying yogurt ?? Doesn't make any sense to me.

My guess is that he saw something suspicious while he was pumping, possibly a drug deal or somebody wanted by the authorities, he went to investigate instead of calling for backup, then was killed.

Edited by JonathanVonErich
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Possible, after all mr. O'Mara was behind many raids against the Mafia from Illinois, it's possible that he had enemys.

The question I have is: If indeed it was suicide, why would he bring his flashlight with him ?? And why would he kill himself while pumping gas ( the gas nozzle was still in the tank when the body was found ) ?? The way the body was found ( slumped over a rock in the middle of the lawn ) looks like the body might have been placed there by somebody, I just can't imagine somebody shooting himself in the head while being in that position, or can't believe that his body felt in that position.

Also his wife said that before he left the house, Michael said he was going to buy yogurt, then asked her what flavor she wanted. If he was going to kill himself why would he talk about buying yogurt ?? Doesn't make any sense to me.

My guess is that he saw something suspicious while he was pumping, possibly a drug deal or somebody wanted by the authorities, he went to investigate instead of calling for backup, then was killed.

Yea that is indeed strange. Don't think anyone would just suddenly decide to commit suicide in the middle of pumping gas on their car. Hmm I stick to the mafia doing it then.

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Jonathan please contact me I have info on this case

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I sent you a PM, Ruthe, can't wait to talk to you. Thank you ! :tu:

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There are alot of missing pieces here.

- He was home from work - he works in the records dept

- and then at 9pm ish he decides to go back to the county gas station and fill up his tank.

- He takes his briefcase with him

- He has his wallet in his pocket and no cash so he borrows $4 from his wife

Why the briefcase? Why ducks out for "gas" carrying a whole briefcase, when the basic stuff he needs aka: ID and possibly cash are in a wallet in his pocket?

Why come home from work at the County Office and then go back at 9pm to fill the tank? Why not fill up on his way in to work the next day even?

When he gets there, he starts to fill his tank.

If you're committing suicide, why bother? Just park the car, walk to the rock and do it - why even go there at all?

- Then there is the evidence that would prove conclusively that it was a suicide thats just either not mentioned or not in the Coroner's report.

- Gunshot residue and spatter on the hand? Not Mentioned

- Is he right handed or left handed? Not Mentioned

- The briefcase is very deliberately shown in the re-inactment but doesn't rate an actual mention.

Doing some rudimentary bleeding obvious math here - works in the "records" dept plus carrying a briefcase out with him to fill up with gas.

It is entirely possible he was meeting someone and handing over documents, either because he was forced to or he was on the take.

If that were so, the location for the handover becomes interesting - the person he was meeting would not be out of place in that location, is therefore possibly known to him and/or even works for the County also.

Did he leave the nozzle in the tank to make it very obvious something was wrong if he was unlucky enough not to return to his car after handing over the documents maybe?

Did he know enough to leave evidence of foul play just in case?

If it was his own efforts to make it look like foul play but actually was a suicide - we are back to square one. Why is it an "Unsolved Mystery" in some way?

To repeat the most important of all the above: is it because the obvious and conclusive evidence that he shot himself is conspicuously missing from the coroner's report? aka: no gun residue and blood spatter on his hand or sleeve?

If that evidence was there - wouldn't it be the best thing to say? Why is there a question of the distance of the gun from his temple when it could all be put to bed by this much more compelling evidence?

Anyway to get a hold of that Coroner's report JVE?

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Ok. Ruthe just sent me a letter via email, and it's a bombshell, this letter is full of important and disturbing informations. I'll share more about this soon.

Thanks for sharing more information, LibstacK, amazing post. :tu: I obviously forgot to mention the briefcase, my bad.

The only way to get a hold of the Coroner's report would be to contact the Cook County Sheriff department directly, but I doubt they'll agree to share the report with anybody. Still, we can try.

Cook County Sheriff’s Office

50 W. Washington

Chicago, Illinois 60602

(312) 603-6444

sheriff.dart@cookcountyil.gov

Cook County Sheriff's Police: (708)-865-4700

Earlier today somebody gave me a link to a recent article, written a few weeks ago, about the case. Very surprising, I thought this case was forgotten. The article mention informations that were not available years ago, like the discovery that there were facial lacerations visible on Michael O'Mara's face, and it seems like O'Mara was beat up before he was shot.

Article from May 14, 2012: http://www.ipsn.org/omara.php

Again this is new information to me, and I only discovered these info after I made the thread. Sorry.

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He was also investigating other members of the Cook County Sheriffs Police.

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He was also investigating other members of the Cook County Sheriffs Police.

Exactly. Ruthe gave me credible and important information about the corruption in The Cook County Sheriff Department at the time of Michael O'Mara's death. Ruthe can share the information herself if she wants to, but if she doesn't then I will, I just need to review the letter a second time before sharing more. :tu:

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Well done Ruthe and JVE, I look forward to seeing this letter.

Yep, it the whole thing struck me as a case of some level of corruption, especially him carrying the briefcase just to fill up on gas and working in the records dept....well, what exactly was in that briefcase?

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The briefcase was in the car and his wife said he was going to stop at his office, he owned his own investigating company, sounded like it was close by, and one of them could have followed him or the police said he called in "in service" as he would have to be on duty to fill up! They knew where he was going and I believe waiting for him! Many times when I was out on bond, they use to stop me, ask for my license, and just to delay me so I would be late for work!

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I truly believe they waited for Bob Linder! I will never believe he fell asleep in the garage with the car running! There is a button on the wall and you close the door after you get out of the car! But he had no family, nobody to question his death like The O'Mara's !My Mother, God rest her soul, Always said "the Lord works in strange ways and everything happens for the best"! There are many days I wish I could call her up and question that! I am 69 years old and I thank you all for your help! I just feel she prompted me to Google his name! I had done it years ago but never found anything!

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As Jonathathan said about the autopsy report, they probably won't give it to you, although they should under the Freedom of information, but they will come up with some excuse, "ongoing investigation, etc" but it doesn't matter as Dr.DiMaio shot down their report!

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Tell us more about that letter Jon! :su

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The briefcase was in the car and his wife said he was going to stop at his office, he owned his own investigating company, sounded like it was close by, and one of them could have followed him or the police said he called in "in service" as he would have to be on duty to fill up! They knew where he was going and I believe waiting for him! Many times when I was out on bond, they use to stop me, ask for my license, and just to delay me so I would be late for work!

As Jonathathan said about the autopsy report, they probably won't give it to you, although they should under the Freedom of information, but they will come up with some excuse, "ongoing investigation, etc" but it doesn't matter as Dr.DiMaio shot down their report!

Yeah I got a general gist of the issue with the briefcase from Jonathon's article link. However, on the Unsolved Mysteries Episode he was distinctly carrying the briefcase with him to the car. If they were doing a re-inactment was it based on the statements of his wife and family or did they just get that wrong?

Also with the autopsy, yep that was one lame document what was reported of it and how odd is that? When one of their own is dead a police force would typically leave no stone unturned, yet at every opportunity they seem to have done the opposite and muddied the waters, right from the get go even when they told the wife 2 1/2 later that her husband was dead and had committed suicide - that is a glaring red flag right there.

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Posted (edited)

Don't worry Ruthe, I'm still working on this case. I just don't have much free time right now, lot of work and I'm not even at home right now ( I'm spending the next 2 weeks in Charlevoix, one hour from where I live, got a job there ), but I'll try to share all the information you gave me before the end of the week. :tu:

Edited by JonathanVonErich

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Don't worry Ruthe, I'm still working on this case. I just don't have much free time right now, lot of work and I'm not even at home right now ( I'm spending the next 2 weeks in Charlevoix, one hour from where I live, got a job there ), but I'll try to share all the information you gave me before the end of the week. :tu:

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Don't worry I totally understand! I work as a waitress and I work most of the parties, the weekends are very long for me! Trying to go to school and work is difficult and I know I got your interest with my letter! When I fill in some of the other information it really sounds unbelievable! Everything I said in the letter was true fact! I may have typed a wrong name or a date was the day before or after but at 69 yrs old I have so much I was trying to say, I could have written 200 pages instead of 14! At 200 I would still have had hundreds more to write!! :) I am starting follow up calls and copies to more people! I don't want them to think I wrote that one letter and will stop! I did send a copy to O'Mara's brother who I found as the assistant pastor of a catholic church in the south suburbs of Chicago, sent a copy to Dr.Dimaio, the forensic they hired-he is on the board of The Texas board of forensics . I also sent one to Brian Dennehy, the actor, by way of the Goodman Theater in Chicago where he is performing right now ! I asked him to please help me get a hold of Jack Reed who was a Lieutenant with the sheriffs police and a good friend of O'Mara's ! Reed was portrayed by Dennehy in 3 made for tv movies and although I didn't see the movies, I am buying a copy of them and reading about the movies it sounds like they all were about O'mara! Well take care I have to work a double tomorrow and need some rest! Thanks again for everything and any suggestions from you or anyone else will be greatly appreciated!

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Well, aside from the lack of supporting evidence, there is 1 major thing to note:

People that commit suicide by shooting themselves don't shoot themselves in the forehead. They typically put the barrell in their mouth (a family man would do this mainly so they can have an open casket - morticians weren't that good back in the 80s to patch a bullet wound in the front parts of the head).

Also (came to me as an after thought), why did the coronor's report take so long? Even back then, tox screens and bloodwork didn't take more than a few days (unless there was something they couldn't identify easily), and those are usually what takes the longest.

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I agree with the man in that current article who said that he could believe it was an accident...that "he tripped".

I think that's exactly what happened because the evidence correlates perfectly with that scenario.

Obviously, something caught his attention while he was pumping gas...so, he went to investigate with his gun and flashlight, and he tripped over the rock.

It accounts for the nozzle in the gas tank, the distance of the shot, the facial lacerations, and that he was slumped over the rock.

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I think his past caught up with him. Most suicides by gun are in the mouth, side of the head or under the chin. Not between the eyes. I believe he had help in this.

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I am interested in this and this letter from Ruthe.

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Don't worry Ruthe, I'm still working on this case. I just don't have much free time right now, lot of work and I'm not even at home right now ( I'm spending the next 2 weeks in Charlevoix, one hour from where I live, got a job there ), but I'll try to share all the information you gave me before the end of the week. :tu:

No word yet on Ruthe's letter? ....?

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Someone let us in on this? Jve, ruthe? It's been a year

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