While police maintain that the death of Donte Perez Jones was a suicide, his family believes he was hanged, and that his death may have been a homicide, they are saying on a GoFundMe campaign.
Jones' body was found hanging early Friday, June 17 along a trail in Whitpain Township's Wentz Run Park, Whitpain Township police said, citing no evidence of foul play.
His family feels confident there is more to the story.
"His death was automatically ruled a closed case of suicide," reads a fundraiser launched by his mom, Latina Dean.
"Donte lived in Delaware county which is about an hour from Blue Bell Pa. Why would Donte drive an hour away at 12 a.m. to an unknown township in the middle of the woods and use the back entrance to get to the park where there are no cameras to commit suicide?"
Whitpain Township Police Chief Kenneth Lawson did not return Daily Voice's request for comment on the man's death, however, authorities in Montgomery County said Tuesday, June 21 they'd found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the US army veteran and DelCo dad's death.
Further autopsy results are pending.
Jones worked for Piedmont Airlines and intended to take his final CDL exam this summer, travel with his children, and begin a trucking career, the page says.
His death was presumed to be a suicide after a passerby discovered his body "leaning against a piece of playground equipment" in Wentz Run Park.
Meanwhile, Dean claims that many questions remain about her son's death and took to Facebook to explain the alleged lack of transparency from local police.
She noted on the GoFundMe page that she had to fight to identify his body and re-open what she says she was told was a closed case.
"Donte’s parents were denied their right to view and properly identify his body for over 48 hours. The coroner’s office said that they would not be doing an autopsy or toxicology report since it was ruled a suicide even after the mother requested one."
Dean claims that it was only after she contacted government officials and NAACP representatives that Chief Lawson called her to apologize for the way the case was handled and to inform her that a full investigation and autopsy would be conducted.
In a press release, the chief said that the department did not declare the investigation closed and that they are "taking this matter seriously."
According to him, the Montgomery County Coroner's Office performed an autopsy, and the final cause and manner of death are pending toxicology results, which are expected to be released in a few weeks.
A memorial service has been scheduled for 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 25 at Terry Funeral Home Chapel on Haverford Avenue in Philadelphia. Those unable to make the viewing have been encouraged to watch it remotely by clicking this Zoom link.
Jones' family has also planned a peaceful gathering at Wentz Run Park at 5 p.m.
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