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Coroner: Gary Webb's Death Confirmed as Suicide

Editor and Publisher | December 15 2004

Comment: We're still treating this as very suspicious. They have flip-flopped AGAIN. First it was multiple gunshot wounds, then it was just one and now it's multiple again. The coroner is right we have seen multiple wounds before in suicides, but only in Arkansas. Would somebody stealing your motorcycle really drive you over the edge? Remember what 'Freeway' Ricky Ross said? "The last time I talked to Gary he was excited and happy about life. He was thriving and looking towards the future." We owe it to Gary to exhaust all possibilities, that's what he would have wanted being the meticulous researcher he was.

Related: Evidence Begins To Indicate Gary Webb Was Murdered

NEW YORK The death of investigative reporter Gary Webb has been confirmed as a suicide, according to a coroner's statement. There has been speculation that he may have met with foul play because he had received two gunshot wounds to the head, The Sacramento Bee reported Wednesday.

"The cause of death was determined to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head," said a statement issued by the Sacramento County Coroner's Office. "Information and evidence gathered at the scene of death, including a handwritten note indicating an intention on the part of the decedent to take his own life, resulted in 'suicide' as the determined manner of death."

The statement was issued because of numerous calls to the Coroner's Office following a Bee report Sunday that Webb's death was caused by more than one wound. A former San Jose Mercury News reporter, Webb was found dead in his Carmichael, Calif., home Friday morning.

Webb gained national attention in the 1990s after writing a series of stories for the Mercury News linking the CIA to Nicaraguan Contras trying to overthrow the Sandinista government and to drug sales of crack cocaine flooding South Central Los Angeles in the 1980s.

The Mercury News and others later questioned the conclusions in Webb's reporting, and he left the San Jose newspaper in 1997 after being moved to a suburban bureau. The paper later published an apology.

Webb's ex-wife, Sue Bell, told the Bee Tuesday that Webb, 49, had been distraught for some time over his inability to get a job at another major newspaper. "The way he was acting it would be hard for me to believe it was anything but suicide," Bell said.

The Bee also reported that Webb had paid for his own cremation earlier in the year and had named Bell months ago as the beneficiary of his bank account. He had sold his house last week, because he could no longer afford the mortgage, and was upset that his motorcycle had been stolen last week.

He had apparently laid out his driver's license before taking his father's .38-caliber pistol, which he kept in his nightstand, to shoot himself.

Coroner Robert Lyons said his office had been swamped with calls. "It's unusual in a suicide case to have two shots," he said, "but it has been done in the past, and it is in fact a distinct possibility."