Official cause of death for Huntington man changed from suicide to 'undetermined'

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - It's been more than 14 years since 22-year-old Corey Wood of Huntington died.

His death was ruled a suicide, but from day one, his family said that was simply not the case.

And now that one word, the word suicide, that has haunted them for years has been removed from his death certificate and replaced with the word undetermined.

East Texas News has been following this story for more than a year. We talked with investigators and Corey's family about this step forward.

Corey Wood died in September 1999. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head, and since that day, the word suicide has plagued his family.

"We know Corey did not kill himself," said Darci Holloway, Corey's sister.

Corey's family has done their own investigation. They even commissioned their own autopsy, where they learned several of Corey's bones were mysteriously missing.

That pathologist ruled Corey's death undetermined, contrary to the original autopsy done at the time of death, which labeled it a suicide.

Lieutenant Pete Maskunas with the Angelina County Sheriff's Office said there are too many unanswered questions in this case.

"Based on the information that we have now, and the questions that we can't answer at this point in time," said Maskunas. "We felt like the best thing to do was to reflect the death certificate as the investigation currently is as an undetermined death."

Corey's mom, Joy Brunner describes the moment she learned his death certificate would be amended as euphoric.

"I knew Corey did not commit suicide," Brunner said.

"We've always known that Corey didn't kill himself and this just proves it to our family and everyone else that it's not a suicide," said Holloway. "We still feel pretty good about it because it's not suicide but the investigation is still going and we have hopes that it will be homicide."

Corey's family believes he was murdered. They say the day he died he got a promotion, bought new tires, and made plans to see his grandmother the next day. Brunner said that's not behavior of someone who was going to take their own life.

"Corey got a $10 a day raise, everything in his life was fine," Brunner said. "We looked at his life, how he lived and where he was at in his life before he died."

Maskunas said it's a frustrating case because there were a lot of holes left in the initial investigation.

"Unfortunately, there were some things forensically that could have been done, maybe should have been done that weren't done or maybe not to the degree that would have helped," Maskunas said. "Maybe there's some folks that have some additional information that would be willing to come forward."

"You would thing that within 14 years that someone would have some guilt feelings and would want to come and go forward," said Corey's grandmother, Yvonne Marshall.

Corey's family says they will not give up.

"We should have justice," Holloway said.

"It's a done deal by whether it's done by the criminal justice system or by God's justice," Brunner said.

Brunner says the change on the death certificate does bring her and her family peace but just because they are at peace with what is doesn't mean that they don't know that they are the only ones that are fighting to expose and bring attention to what they believe is the truth about Corey's death.

The family says that Sheriff Greg Sanches has been dedicated to helping them since he took office.

"The sheriff's department is doing as much as they can with what they have," said Holloway. "It has not been investigated for 14 years so to even have it investigated now is a big step."

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