Army: Ciara Durkin’s death a suicide

by Ethan Jacobs

Bay Windows

Thursday June 26, 2008

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) concluded that Army National Guard Corporal Ciara Durkin's death last September was the result of a suicide. Durkin, a Quincy resident who was an active member of Boston's LGBT community before joining the National Guard, was found dead at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan from a gunshot wound to the head.

"We concluded that her death unfortunately was a self-inflicted gunshot wound and suicide," said Christopher Grey, a spokesman for the CID.

Durkin's family, who could not be reached for comment, released a statement about the CID investigation this week via a memorial website they had created in Durkin's honor. The statement suggests that the family is not satisfied with the CID's conclusions.

"We are very upset and saddened by their conclusion," reads the statement. "We have borne an extraordinary amount of pain over the past nine months, compounded by a protracted and at times ambiguous investigation. We now need time and privacy to grieve, and let our Ciara finally rest in peace."

Grey said CID notified Durkin's family in early April that it was closing the investigation, and at that time the CID presented the family with its findings. He said he was unsure when the family received the final written report on Durkin's death.

Following Durkin's death her family publicly voiced suspicions that she may have been murdered. Her brother, Pierce Durkin, told Bay Windows in October that when his sister was in the Boston area visiting her family last June she told them "that she had some concerns about her safety and that if anything were to happen we were to investigate it." The family, working with Sens. John Kerry and Ted Kennedy and Congressman William Delahunt, successfully petitioned the Army to be allowed to conduct their own independent autopsy. In an October 3 Boston Globe story Durkin's sister, Fiona Canavan, speculated that Durkin could have been targeted for being gay, but Pierce Durkin told Bay Windows the family had no evidence that she was open about her sexuality within the military.

Grey said CID investigated the family's concern that she may have been murdered, but he said the evidence did not support that theory.

"We followed all available leads and found no sign whatsoever of foul play," said Grey.Brigid O'Rourke, a spokeswoman for Kerry, said the senator is withholding public comment on the results of the CID investigation out of respect for Durkin's family. Kennedy's and Delahunt's offices did not respond to requests for comment.

Grey said the CID investigation looked at a range of evidence, including physical evidence at the scene, statements from witnesses, phone records, a psychological review of Durkin, and a finding by the Army Medical Examiner that Durkin had committed suicide.

In the aftermath of Durkin's death her family told press that she had been in good spirits the last time they saw her in September. Pierce Durkin told Bay Windows she was excited to resume her life as a civilian in February and to marry her fianc?e, Haidee Loreto.

On June 14 Durkin's friends and family members celebrated her life by marching on her behalf in the Boston Pride Parade. Durkin, a former volunteer with the Pride Committee, had been named an honorary Pride marshal.

Durkin received full military honors in an Oct. 6 ceremony outside St. John the Baptist Church in Quincy, where her funeral was held. She was posthumously promoted to the rank of corporal. A portion of her ashes were interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Copyright Bay Windows. For more articles from New England's largest GLBT newspaper, visit www.baywindows.com