"I know that he did not commit suicide."

Curious Causes

As Boeing continues to be in the news for its repeatedly malfunctioning planes, the fallout from one ex-employee's death continues — and new reports complicate the coroner's initial suicide ruling.

In an interview with Charleston, South Carolina's ABC4 News, a friend of Boeing whistleblower John Barnett, whose body was found dead in a car parked in a hotel lot amid his testimony against his former employer last weekend, said that he warned her that something might happen to him.

"I said, 'Aren't you scared?'" the woman, who gave only her first name Jennifer, told the local broadcaster. "And he said, 'No, I ain't scared, but if anything happens to me, it's not suicide.'"

Jennifer said that Barnett's words were spoken ahead of his deposition against Boeing. At the time, he'd mentioned that the company had retaliated against him for raising safety concerns before — which was, indeed, the subject of his Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) complaint that led to his now-unfinished deposition.

The woman, who lives in the whistleblower's home state of Louisiana where he'd moved in recent years to take care of his aging mother, said that that cryptic warning has come back to haunt her since Barnett's death, which a coroner in Charleston says was self-inflicted.

"I know that he did not commit suicide," Jennifer told ABC4. "There's no way. He loved life too much. He loved his family too much. He loved his brothers too much to put them through what they're going through right now."


She's not alone in that sentiment either, it seems.

In a statement to Futurism, Barnett's attorneys said that they also "didn't see any indication" that the whistleblower may have been planning to take his own life, and that he'd seemed in "good spirits" as his deposition was coming to a close.

Not everyone close to the longtime Boeing quality control manager agrees with that sentiment, however.

In an interview with the Seattles Times, Barnett's niece, Katelyn Gillespie, said that her "fun uncle" had become "stressed and depressed" in recent months as his ex-employer was in the news amid the same kinds of safety concerns he'd raised and ultimately resigned over.

"He battled a lot due to the Boeing stuff," the whistleblower's niece said. "It took a major toll on him."

Despite the Charleston County coroner's preliminary autopsy report on the cause of death being a self-inflicted gunshot wound and that local police found, per the city's Live 5 News, "some sort of note," authorities said they are still actively investigating the case while awaiting an official coroner's ruling.

As in other suspicious whistleblower suicides, it's almost impossible for anyone to know exactly what happened when Barnett died — but with this new claim from someone close to Barnett, things just got a lot more complicated.

More on Boeing: Pilot Lost Control of Boeing Jet Because Gauges “Went Blank," Causing Nosedive

Share This Article