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Advances in DNA technology led authorities to declare that a 22-year-old Cleveland country music fan who plunged to his death at a concert in 2014 met with foul play.
Cory Barron reportedly died after falling through a garbage chute inside a utility room at Cleveland's Major League Baseball park, Progressive Field, while attending a Jason Aldean concert with his family in July 2014. However, the 6'2", 225 pound Ohio man's death was ruled inconclusive at the time, Cleveland.com reported.
Officials now say that Barron was involved in “an altercation” prior to his death, the Associated Press reported.
On Monday, the Lorain County Coroner’s Office announced Barron’s manner of death had been switched from undetermined to homicide. Cleveland Police added that the investigation into Barron’s death is ongoing.
“In light of the additional information, his death was due to the actions or failure to act of another person or persons,” the coroner's office said in a statement, Cleveland television station WKYC reported. “The manner of death for Cory Barron has been changed from undetermined to homicide.”
Police haven’t specified whether they’re looking at any particular people of interest, or if more than one person may have been involved in Barron’s death. No arrests have been made.
“There are people we are interested in speaking with, and we are working on taking steps to attempt to speak with them,” Cleveland Police homicide investigator Sgt. Aaron Reese said.
In July 2014, Barron disappeared in the midst of a country music concert at Progressive Field; his body was found four days later in a landfill. Authorities ultimately surmised that Barron had fatally fallen five stories through a garbage chute, located in a utility room at the Cleveland ballpark. His death was said to have been instantaneous.
He sustained several blunt force trauma injuries to his head, torso and extremities due to the fall, officials said. However, it’s unclear if Barron was intoxicated, as any blood-alcohol level would not have been accurate due to his body’s state of decomposition. Law enforcement said drugs weren’t tied to his death.
"I'm less than happy," then-Lorain County Coroner Dr. Steven Evans said at the time of the initial autopsy report, according to WKYC. "We'll never know the circumstances of how he wound up in the trash chute. I wish I had that for the family."
His family sued the baseball team, alleging that the park and its vendors failed to secure the utility room in which the chute was located or post signs warning about the drop, Cleveland.com reported. The two sides settled out of court.
Barron’s family ultimately contracted private investigators to probe the 22-year-old’s death. They found new DNA evidence, which eventually led to the reversal in Barron’s manner of death.
"We reviewed the investigative work that was done by the private investigators and then kind of piggybacked off of that and conducted more interviews and submitted some more scientific items to be tested for DNA," Sgt. Reese added, according to WKYC. "And there's still more we're seeking to do."
Investigators said that, based upon additional eyewitness interviews, they’ve recently concluded that “some type of incident” or altercation occurred between Barron and an unknown person or group of people before death. Homicide detectives, who suspect there are more eyewitnesses who haven’t yet come forward, urged the public to contact authorities if they know anything regarding Barron’s death.
"Just based on eyewitness — people that we've interviewed, we know that there was some type of incident," Sgt. Reese also stated. "I would expect there to be multiple, more witnesses available based on what we've been told by other people."
Authorities haven’t released additional information. The case remains open and active.
"They deserve justice, Cory deserves justice," Reese said, referring to Barron’s family. "They haven't given up the fight."
Oxygen.com has reached out to the Lorain County Coroner’s Office and Cleveland Police Department for more information.
Anyone with additional information related to Barron’s death are urged to contact Cleveland Police homicide investigators at 216-623-5464.
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