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12 Page Summary
By Michaela E. Mahoney
June 02, 2006

On September 02, 2001, Shawn McMillan was driven into the parking lot of the Helen Ellis Hospital by Rita Nordmark and her intoxicated brother-in-law, Dan Nordmark, an off duty Corrections Officer. It was approximately 2:26 A.M. and a bullet from the drunken officer’s gun had just ripped through Shawn’s brain destroying everything in its path. Officer Nordmark alleged the wound was self inflicted. The facts prove otherwise.

While 26 year old Shawn lay dying in the emergency room at Helen Ellis Hospital, Sgt. James Allen MacKenzie of the Tarpon Springs Police Department began his official Police Report with these chilling words:

“At 2:39 hours on September 2, 2001, I was called at my residence in reference to responding to a shooting at Helen Ellis ER with “Special Circumstances.”

“Special Circumstances” was the code used by Sgt. MacKenzie and other officers to designate the highly intoxicated owner of the gun, Corrections Officer Dan Nordmark, as a fellow member of Law Enforcement. The cover-up began that night when the Nordmarks first lied about their whereabouts and knowingly concealed the drunken and violent events that led up to Shawn’s horrifying death. When the police realized they were dealing with a member of law enforcement, “Special Circumstances” apparently took precedence over the investigation and dictated the actions taken by the Tarpon Springs police as they ignored routine police procedures, failed to conduct Gun Residue Tests on anyone’s hands, failed to administer alcohol or drug tests on the drunken officer Nordmark who was so intoxicated he could barely stand up, (initially failed to even document Officer Nordmark’s extreme intoxication in their police reports until several days after Shawn’s death when I demanded to know why this information was excluded); failed to question any credible witnesses, failed to pursue a single lead, failed to impound the car, obtained peroxide from the hospital ER and instructed Rita Nordmark to begin cleaning out the blood (evidence) within two hours of the shooting and they allowed the drunken offer to simply walk away as Shawn lay dying in the hospital; they failed to initially locate the gun although three police officers and the emergency room nurse searched for the missing weapon which was later “found” in plain sight; and they failed to lift fingerprints from the gun. (Months later, an FDLE Special Agent Supervisor stated that the “Tarpon Springs police had completely obliterated all of the fingerprints from the gun,” and it was covered and smudged with grey powder and there was not one print on the gun by the time the FDLE received it in late September).

The day after my son’s funeral and in the presence of a witness, Sgt. MacKenzie threatened me with criminal liability and criminal sanctions (arrest) if I spoke to the authorities, Press, attorneys or other individuals. During the weeks that followed, Sgt. MacKenzie continued to behave in an unprofessional, volatile and aggressive manner, shouting at Shawn’s distraught younger brother, Daniel McMillan and me on several occasions in an apparent attempt to intimidate and to silence us and he repeatedly conveyed misleading information to the Press in what appears to be his efforts to defend his position and convince the Public that the shot was self inflicted by Shawn.

The Tarpon Springs police reports were riddled with lies and omissions regarding material facts and completely concealed the events of the evening. Dan Nordmark relayed the first deceptive explanation as to how the gun supposedly ended up in Shawn’s hands on the night of the shooting. He falsely stated that he and Shawn were alone at the Shades Bar and he retrieved his gun for protection because four or five males bothered them in the parking lot, prompting Shawn to take possession of the gun because he was concerned that Officer Nordmark would use it for “something other than protection.” The police reports reflected that Officer Nordmark and Rita Nordmark indicated he called her at home to pick them up after he locked his keys in the car. None of this was true.

If the Tarpon Springs Police had questioned the Nordmarks for more than five or ten useless and fragmented minutes; if they had interrogated a single witness other than the Nordmarks; and if they had simply made even one contact with the employees and patrons of the Shades Bar, the Palms Bar and Grill or the British Pub, as I later did, they would have quickly and easily ascertained that the Nordmarks had contrived their entire story that night to hide the violent and reckless events of the evening and the fact that they had not been at the Shades Bar, no men were bothering them, Shawn had not asked for the gun and Rita Nordmark was not at home when called by Dan Nordmark. In reality they were all at the Palms Bar and Grill with Bernie Dillman and later at the British Pub, a bar owned by Rita and Chris Nordmark (Dan Nordmark’s brother). Ed Werda, the manger of the Palms likely would have told them as he later told the FDLE Agent that Dan Nordmark had confided that he had combined LSD with the alcohol he consumed that night. And Rita may have admitted (as she did in a later deposition) that she also saw a bag of Xanax in Bernie Dillman’s car that evening. But “Special Circumstances,” (as Sgt. MacKenzie referenced in his police report), apparently precluded the Tarpon Springs Police from making any reasonable effort to seek the truth that night or in the days or weeks that followed.

Officer Nordmark and his best friend, Bernie Dillman had very good reason to conceal their true whereabouts that night. According to sworn testimony, while at the Palms Bar and Grill, the extremely inebriated Officer Nordmark and Bernie Dillman had become furiously angry and argued with Kimberley Swailes, the Karaoke lady. This terrified young woman said she feared for her life and Shawn’s life after he tried to protect her from the drunken and belligerent men who surrounded her in the parking lot, yelling obscenities while she loaded her equipment. She and other witnesses later described the two men as being violently angry and “evil” that night. She described Shawn’s demeanor as being very sweet and very laid back. Officer Nordmark’s drunken confrontation with this frightened young woman at the Palms Bar and Grill is what prompted him to retrieve his gun and this is when and where he locked his keys in his car. There were no men bothering him. It was Dan Nordmark and Bernie Dillman who were the aggressors.

Kimberley Swailes also told Chief Assistant State Attorney, Bruce Bartlett, she felt Shawn was in danger that night and she did not believe he committed suicide. Ms. Swailes based that belief on the way the men looked at Shawn and their demeanor that night. She said, “They’re so mean. Every time they are there, something happens.” Mr. Bartlett replied, it’s a pretty damn big leap then to say they went and killed somebody. To which Ms. Swailes replied, “Yeah, but somebody is dead.” And although others witnessed their aggressive behavior inside the bar, Mr. Bartlett Bartlett brushed the incident aside because there were no witnesses other than herself and Shawn to confirm that Kimberly was surrounded and verbally attacked outside of the bar and because there was no evidence that they were aggressive toward Shawn later in the evening. Never mind that on the night of the shooting they had concealed all of these events, they may have combined LSD and Xanax with their alcohol use and they later told the FDLE Agents they couldn’t remember much of what occurred that night because of Dan Nordmark’s extreme intoxication and Bernie Dillman’s blackouts!

Finally, around 1:45 A.M after the drunken Dan Nordmark and Bernie Dillman were ordered by management to leave the Palms Bar and Grill, Rita Nordmark left and drove Bernie Dillman to the British Pub. Meanwhile, after Officer Nordmark realized that he had locked his keys in his car, he called Rita Nordmark from the Wal-Mart across the street. She returned to the Palms Bar and Grill to pick up Dan Nordmark and Shawn and proceeded to the British Pub. At that time, per Rita’s sworn deposition, Dan Nordmark told Rita he had his gun in his pocket,{1}. Shawn, never asked for the gun and it remained in Officer Nordmark’s possession. Incidentally, Bernie Dillman’s girlfriend, Jen Pysz, who only showed up for approximately 15 minutes around 2:00 AM, provided version two of how Shawn ended up with the gun when she told the state attorney that Shawn had the gun in his waist band for at least three hours and Dan Nordmark told the FDLE Agent that Shawn took the gun while at the Palms. The evidence does not support their claim.

In front of several witnesses at the British Pub, (Steve Newman, Victoria Mulvey, Kara Gillem, David Atkins), it was the extremely inebriated Dan Nordmark who brought out the firearm and drunkenly waived it around in the air. Officer Nordmark then jammed the slide several times in his intentional and purposeful efforts to load and cock the gun, thereby forcing the first bullet into the chamber. He then freely handed it to his drunken friend, Bernie Dillman, who, according to witnesses aimed the gun in a westerly direction toward an adjacent gas station and a largely occupied mobile home park and fired the weapon, forcing the next bullet into the chamber. This is when the witnesses left in fear of being killed. It was just minutes later when the second bullet savagely tore through Shawn’s brain. None of these events, people or places were included in any of the police reports but instead all of this information was intentionally and knowingly concealed. Why didn’t this matter to the FDLE, the Medical Examiner or the State Attorney?

Weeks after this information was exposed, Dan Nordmark and his best friend, Bernie Dillman told the FDLE agents they were much too intoxicated to remember any of the details concerning their own actions that night or who supposedly handed the gun to Shawn. Bernie Dillman told the FDLE agents that the events throughout the evening were quite fuzzy and unclear to him due to the fact that he drank heavily throughout the afternoon, evening and into the early morning hours. He told the agents he blacked out a lot of the events that evening and he did not recall firing the gun due to his blackouts,{2}. Bernie Dillman later alleged to a reporter that Dan Nordmark handed the gun to Shawn.

Officer Nordmark, told the FDLE agents he was quite intoxicated that night; and he stated that after Bernie fired the gun, he does recall at one point in time he had the gun back in his possession, but somehow Shawn ended up with it in the end. He said the change of possession was unclear to him at that time. He then said Shawn retrieved the gun from Bernie after it was discharged. He again stated he was quite intoxicated and did not recall all of the events and their sequence,{2a}. Now we have versions three and four of how Shawn ended up with the gun as Dan Nordmark and Bernie Dillman placed the blame on each other.

Finally the Nordmarks, Bernie Dillman and Bernie Dillman’s girlfriend, Jen Pysz, all developed a crystal clear memory and agreed to a new and improved version of how Shawn ended up with the gun. This story alleges that after Bernie fired the gun, Shawn McMillan became stupidly fascinated with the laser on the gun, took the weapon in his hands, played with the laser before putting the loaded gun into his own pocket and according to the Nordmarks fired a bullet into his brain a few minutes later while giving directions to his home. This is a totally different account of the fabricated circumstances and events previously reported by the Nordmarks as to how Shawn ended up with the gun.

This final version alleging that Shawn took the gun at the British Pub because he was fascinated with the laser was bolstered by inflammatory and false misinformation provided in the FDLE Agent’s report which was then passed along to the State Attorney. In that document, the Agent incorrectly reported that Rita Nordmark had stated to him that she saw Shawn playing with Dan Nordmark’s laser gun at the British Pub that night, pointing the weapon in different directions and recklessly displaying the weapon, {3}.

This was a very serious accusation against Shawn. However, when confronted with the FDLE Agent’s report by the State Attorney’s office during a deposition, Rita Nordmark made it absolutely clear that it was Officer Nordmark whom she had indicated was recklessly handling the gun and shining the laser around...not Shawn. And though she claimed it somehow ended up in Shawn’s pocket, she adamantly stated that she never saw Shawn handle the gun at all. {1a}

More importantly, the final version of how Shawn came into possession of the gun has been clearly disputed by the four objective witnesses, (listed above, pg. 3), who watched the drunken men in the parking lot of the British Pub that night and have testified under oath that Shawn never asked for or touched the gun and did not participate in the men’s reckless actions. It should also be noted that Shawn was currently living at his father’s home where several guns and live ammunition have been kept in plain sight throughout Shawn’s lifetime. He was never interested in handling any of the guns and was far too intelligent to foolishly handle loaded firearms whether there was a laser attached or not. He was simply trying to get a ride home that night.

How is it possible for Detective MacKenzie, the Medical Examiner, Charles Siebert, the FLDE and the State Attorney to maintain that the Nordmarks’ statement that the gunshot was self inflicted is credible and truthful evidence regardless of the many blatant lies that were told to cover up the true events of the evening and regardless of the brand new version of how Shawn ended up with the gun.

Not surprisingly, the incident involving Shawn’s death was not the first time Officer Dan Nordmark had been shielded by the Tarpon Springs police. He received special treatment and avoided arrest on a previous occasion when a Tarpon Springs resident reported that three men were using marijuana in a vehicle as they passed a “cigarette” back and forth among themselves. When approached by the Tarpon Springs police officers, the obvious smell of burning marijuana was reported and the police stated all three men had been drinking in the vehicle from three large open alcohol containers. The police found drug paraphernalia and a marijuana pipe in the ashtray and one of the men had stuffed the marijuana down his pants. Officer Nordmark was not arrested, was not drug and alcohol tested and a Tarpon Springs police officer simply drove him home that night. One of these same police officers (Miller) was also on the scene the night Shawn was fatally shot and once again Officer Nordmark avoided arrest and was simply allowed to leave the area.

Within two days of Shawn’s death, Tarpon Springs Police Sgt. MacKenzie alleged that the most conclusive piece of evidence in the investigation proving that Daniel Nordmark did not shoot Shawn was the absence of even a trace of blood on Officer Nordmark’s shirt. Sgt. MacKenzie alleged that four tests including a visual examination, alternate light source, Luminal and Phenolphthalien tests were immediately performed at the Forensics Unit of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and no blood was detected on Officer Nordmark’s shirt,{4}. Later the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office discovered that the sensitive Luminal and Phenolphthalien tests were in fact never performed by their laboratory, no required reports had been drafted to document Luminal and Phenolphthalien tests and the FDLE had not been contacted as required when Luminal is utilized by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Forensics Unit.

To verify this information, Sheriff Everett Rice and others conferred with their Forensics Specialist S. Jacobs who it was alleged conducted the tests, T. Whitfield, the Sheriff’s Office Forensics Supervisor and Maximo Sanchez, the Tarpon Springs police officer who took the shirt to the lab. Tarpon Springs Officer Maximo Sanchez agreed with the Sheriff’s Lab Specialist and admitted that no Luminal and Phenolphthalien tests were ever conducted on the shirt. Finally they discussed the matter with the in-house Attorney for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Subsequently I was called by the Sheriff’s Office and Ms. Jacobs and Mr. Whitfield confirmed that the sensitive chemical tests for the presence of Shawn’s blood were never conducted on Officer Nordmark’s shirt. Furthermore, Specialist Jacobs reported, “At no time, in my presence or with my knowledge was Luminal used for blood detection on the shirt.” She also stated and Mr. Whitfield confirmed that if she had personally performed the tests, she would have drafted the required Forensics Report specifically describing her participation and all results of those tests. Ms. Jacobs assured me that Phenolphthalein tests are never conducted on clothing when no blood is visually detected and had there been use of Luminal she would have carefully reported and documented its use and would have been required to contact the FDLE. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office then forwarded a copy of the report to my office documenting that the tests had not been performed on Officer Nordmark’s shirt,{5}.

Soon after the Tarpon Springs Police learned that I had obtained this information indicating that they had fabricated material evidence regarding the “most conclusive piece of evidence in the investigation,” Ms. Jacobs abruptly changed her story and alleged that now she suddenly remembered personally conducting both the Luminal and Phenolphthalein tests and she stated that for some reason did not draft the required reports and she failed to contact the FDLE regarding her use of Luminal. And she stated that she conducted the Phenolphthalein tests although, as she and her Supervisor had previously assured me, those tests are never conducted on clothing when no blood is visually detected!

Notwithstanding this extremely questionable information, neither Ms. Jacobs nor the Tarpon Police knew that several witnesses testified under oath that Shawn was bleeding profusely and was tightly wedged in the back seat of the small Honda Civic. When the nurses could not get Shawn out of the car, the extremely drunken Dan Nordmark staggered to the car, leaned down into the small backseat and reached his arms up under Shawn’s arms and head while wrapping his arms around Shawn’s chest and “struggled” while dragging and pulling Shawn’s bleeding body from the car. Shawn’s head, covered and saturated with flowing blood obviously was against Dan Nordmark’s shirt as he dragged Shawn out of the car with blood continuing to pour from his mouth, nose, ears and head and onto Dan Nordmark’s shirt, chest and arms. The Tarpon Springs police had not yet arrived and none of the officers including Sgt. MacKenzie witnessed Dan Nordmark with his arms wrapped around Shawn’s profusely bleeding head and body as he struggled to remove him from the car and up onto the Gurney. Obviously, Dan Nordmark’s shirt would have been saturated with Shawn’s blood by the time the police arrived.

Even the Tarpon Springs Police photos show that Shawn’s shirt was soaked with his own blood and still looked wet two days after the shooting. Yet Sgt. MacKenzie maintained that there was not a trace of Shawn’s blood on Officer Dan Nordmark shirt’s that night. Later, two witnesses, Victoria Mulvey and Kara Gillem (a Pinellas County Sheriff’s employee), testified separately under oath in front of the State Attorney, that within a few hours of Shawn’s death, Dan Nordmark told them that the police had taken his shirt the night of the shooting because it was covered in Shawn’s blood! Chief Assistant State Attorney, Bruce Bartlett did not respond, asked no questions but instead changed the subject with both witnesses!!! {6}

Meanwhile even before Shawn died, Tarpon Springs police began conferring with the Medical Examiner’s office about the shooting. Dr. Charles Seibert quickly determined suicide as the manner of death less than two days after Shawn’s death, (Monday was a holiday). A few weeks later, Dr. Siebert told me that he based his determination of suicide on his investigator’s conversations with the Tarpon Springs police and the gun being against Shawn’s head. It seems that he sided with police without any credible evidence that Shawn committed suicide. Furthermore, Shawn’s autopsy report reflects several items that are incorrect including the assertion that his height was 5'8", (he was 5'10'), and incorrectly describing his eye color as hazel. He had bright blue eyes. (On that night and throughout the next day when I opened his eyes looking for some sign of recognition, I could still see the beautiful blue color in them). Later a local Radiologist reviewed the X-rays and said it appeared that the path of the bullet was not depicted accurately and the entry wound was more forward than described in the autopsy report.

I have always believed that after the ME investigator conversed with the Tarpon Springs police, Dr. Siebert simply pulled up an autopsy of another person who died from suicide by gunshot and inserted that person’s boiler plate language into Shawn’s autopsy report. Later, the Medical Examiner refused to amend the death certificate even as new evidence surfaced that indicated that Shawn did not commit suicide. Furthermore, upon completion of the FDLE investigation, my younger son and I were told by both of the FDLE Agents and their Regional Director that they were sure that Shawn absolutely did not commit suicide and they intended to inform the Medical Examiner of this fact. Dr. J. Sewell, the FLDE Director has maintained all along that he does not believe Shawn committed suicide. However, the two Agents, J.H. and R.P. apparently deceived us about their intentions and the very next day urged the Medical Examiner, Jon Thogmartin to stand by the determination of suicide. Not surprisingly, law enforcement prevailed and the finding of suicide as the manner of death remained on Shawn’s death certificate. We eventually realized that not only had we been lied to that day, but inaccurate and invalid information pervaded the official investigative reports in Shawn’s case.

Various witnesses, including Shawn’s own brother, have disputed statements that one of the FDLE Agents, J.H., attributed to them in his official reports. This is the same Agent that alleged it was Shawn whom Rita had said was recklessly handling the gun, when in reality, it was Dan Nordmark. Shawn’s long time close friend and former girlfriend, Emily Clark wrote a letter to the State Attorney indicating that the same Agent only wanted negative information about Shawn and was not interested in anything positive about him or about our loving family, {7}. The Agent also documented information implying that a piece of hair found on the window was consistent with Shawn’ seating position in the car. {8} This hair was found one full month after the car had been scrubbed first with peroxide at the hospital, scoured with Oxyclean and various cleaners at Rita Nordmark’s home the next day, then scrubbed with commercial cleaners and paint thinner and detailed by Carsmetics, Inc. (Incidentally, around the same time, the Agent retrieved two bloody locks of hair that the nurses had given to me at the hospital as Shawn lay dying. He noted in his report that the hair was for storage only).

The Agent went on to document that the FDLE Crime Analyst, L. Ernst, was able to locate a pattern of high velocity blood spatter located on the right passenger window of the vehicle perpendicular to Shawn’s head wound and that a blood drop contained a hair follicle, (i.e, root), {8}. Contrary to the Agent’s report, the Crime Analyst only noted that she collected a suspected hair from a blood stain on the interior passenger window, {9}. There is no mention of it being high velocity blood spatter, even in her handwritten notes and as admitted by the Agent, the blood was only determined to be blood, (it was not tested or matched to Shawn’s blood). The Analyst also clearly stated that the hair was returned “unworked” to the Tarpon Springs Police Department until laboratory analysis would be required. {9} And as described below, the hair clearly had no follicle, i.e. root. {11a}

In late March of 2002, the Tarpon Springs Police Department re-submitted the hair and Shawn’s shirt to the FDLE for DNA testing and on April 15, 2002, the other FDLE Agent, R.P., informed the State Attorney’s Office, that the hair “follicle” had been identified as Shawn McMillan’s, {10}. However, this is not accurate. The FDLE’s official report by the FDLE Serology Crime Analyst, B. Higgins shows that they were only able to match one marker out of a possible 13 markers and it only indicated that the hair came from a male and more likely came from an African American.{11} Shawn was blonde and blue eyed. Furthermore, Mr. Higgins’ handwritten notes clearly reflect that there was no root or follicle on the hair, {11a}.


The DNA data was later studied by Dr. Gary W. Litman, Ph.D., Certified Expert in DNA Analysis and Director of All Children’s Molecular Genetics Program at USF, who also pointed out that only one marker out of 13 markers could be matched to Shawn’s DNA and determined only that the hair came from a male, which he said, is of no probative value under any interpretation of this case. Dr. Litman also noted that the hair had no root and only the surface of the hair was analyzed, not the hair itself because of the lack of a root which is the only source of nuclear DNA. He went on to explain that if identity of the hair is sought, a different technology would be used, i.e., Mitochondrial DNA typing, {12}. The FDLE only utilized STR typing and was unsuccessful in matching 12 of the 13 possible markers to Shawn’s DNA.

Furthermore, contrary to the new version of facts that alleges Shawn was sitting directly against the back right passenger window, Dan Nordmark initially told the FDLE investigator that Shawn was in the middle, leaning forward, giving directions to his home and they were both smoking cigarettes,{2a}. But as the investigation intensified in the quest to prove suicide, thereby relieving Officer Nordmark and the Tarpon Springs Police Department of any wrongdoing, his seating position was shifted to the right, placing him against the back passenger window and out of Dan Nordmark’s reach.

Even Sgt. MacKenzie initially insisted that Shawn was sitting in the center of the back seat, leaning forward to the area between the two front seats and giving directions to his home when the gun was fired. The day after my son’s funeral, Sgt. MacKenzie set up two chairs in his office to illustrate his cruel re-enactment of my son’s death. He had Margaret M. who accompanied me, sit in the chair which would have been the front passenger seat where he said Dan Nordmark sat and the other one was set up for me as if I were sitting in the middle of the back seat where he adamantly insisted my son had been seated when he was shot in the head. When he instructed Margaret M. to try and aim an imaginary gun at my head, she turned back and easily put her trigger finger against my temple. Sgt. MacKenzie , who claims to be trained in forensics, just frowned and mumbled that it would be a lot harder for Dan Nordmark to do that inside a car, but adamantly repeated that Shawn was seated in the middle of the back seat and leaning forward giving directions home. His comments appear to be confirmed by an FDLE report generated on 9/21/01 when the agency retrieved the gun, bullets, clothing, etc., from Sgt. MacKenzie and Shawn’s position is described as being seated in the center rear seat of a Honda Civic 4 Door.

Furthermore, the FDLE, Agent J.H, adamantly maintained that the vehicle’s back passenger window was completely closed with no opening at the top when the gun was fired thereby reinforcing the pronouncement that the shot was self inflicted by Shawn and eliminating the possibility that Dan Nordmark or Bernie Dillman reached inside the window with the gun. The Agent used the FDLE photos, (taken after the car was scoured several times with caustic cleaners and then picked up a month after the shooting), to confirm this theory. The photos show a few nondescript spots at the top forward portion of the back passenger window. He indicated that the shot sprayed Shawn’s blood onto the closed back passenger window of the car in a pattern perpendicular to the wound on the upper right side of Shawn’s head as he sat by the window.

However, the official Tarpon Springs police photos taken the night of the shooting show that the back passenger window was not closed, in fact it was rolled down at least eight inches or more thereby exposing the upper side of Shawn’s head and the area where the bullet entered his skull (regardless of where he sat in the back seat),{13}. With the window rolled down, the high forward position of the alleged spots and single fragment of someone’s hair on the car window (found a month after the shooting), could not have been perpendicular to Shawn’s head wound.
Incidentally, The Tarpon Springs Police did not photograph or mention any blood spatter on the car window the night of the shooting.

In addition, the Tarpon Springs police photos clearly show that the front passenger seat of the small Honda Civic where the 6'1" 240 lb. Dan Nordmark sat was pushed all the way back on its tracks. Officer Nordmark’s headrest was pulled up in the high position and because the seat was pushed so far back, the headrest was directly in front of the forward area of the rolled down back passenger window and would have effectively blocked the window and prevented blood or hair from landing in the section shown by the FDLE photos. This also would have obviously made it impossible for Shawn to be sitting next to the window or for his head to be close to that area of the window. In fact, the photos indicate that is where Dan Nordmark’s own head would have been in relation to the back passenger window. The front passenger headrest (where Dan Nordmark sat) is seen positioned directly in front of the back passenger window, {13}. The fact that the front seat was pushed so far back by the overweight Officer Nordmark reinforces the obvious likelihood that the long legged Shawn sat towards the middle of the back seat of the small Honda Civic and not directly behind Officer Nordmark when he was shot. And as the reports illustrate, the hair was not matched to Shawn’s DNA and more likely belonged to an African American, {11}.

More than fifty friends, family members and ATO Fraternity Brothers wrote letters to the State Attorney’s office adamantly explaining that Shawn would never shoot himself. Most had been in close touch with Shawn and many spoke about his keen intellect, kindness, integrity, honesty, leadership qualities and happy disposition. Some described Shawn’s future plans, some told about Shawn’s dismay at others who committed suicide and how he could not understand why anyone would do that to themselves or to their loved ones. They talked about conversations with Shawn regarding his future plans and his excitement about starting his new job with American Express the following week. One of his cousins told the state attorney that she had spoken to Shawn just a few days before his death when he promised to call her on Monday to hear about her weekend date. She found his post it note stuck to his dresser that read, “Call Jessica on Monday.” One of the three attorneys, that Shawn worked for at the time of his death, (Joseph Cianfrone), wrote about spending time with Shawn 12 hours before he was shot. He was happy and excited about his new job and there was absolutely no indication of any sadness or imminent suicide.

All of these people were ignored by the State Attorneys Office. None of them received an acknowledgment and none were questioned about Shawn. Instead the authorities relied on misleading testimony regarding Shawn’s mental status which was gathered from an angry ex-girlfriend and the Nordmarks’ biased friends and employees who were very closely aligned with them and with each other. These people trashed Shawn’s reputation and attacked my relationship with my son. Rita’s close friend and British Pub employee, L.C., freely acknowledged to the FDLE that she is very good friends with Dan Nordmark, Chris Nordmark, Rita Nordmark, Jen Pysz and Bernie Dillman, before she proceeded to verbally attack Shawn’s character and mine although she admitted that she had no personal knowledge regarding my relationship with Shawn. Her brother and roommate, A.C., was also questioned. Although he criticized Shawn and alleged he was constantly drunk, (not true), he clearly told the FDLE that he was not aware of Shawn ever using any drugs, either at college or in his present life. But then a few months later and after he and his sister had continued to socialize at the British Pub, he completely altered his earlier statements and alleged to the state attorney that he and Shawn had a strained relationship because Shawn was using cocaine, ecstasy and pretty much any drugs he could find. (It could easily have been proven that Shawn did not use drugs as the authorities would have had easy access to at least three separate unplanned and unexpected drug and alcohol tests performed over the last year or two relating to job applications, medical purposes, etc. And as proven by the toxicology tests conducted for the medical examiner’s office after Shawn’s death, there were no traces of drugs of any kind in Shawn’s system.)

J.C., a very close friend of the brother and sister described above was also questioned by the authorities. This man had a criminal record, had been banned from our home for years because of his extremely offensive behavior, had taunted Shawn by constantly calling him poor little rich boy and other derisive names and had recently been fired from a locally owned Deli for allegedly stealing money. In his first statement to the FDLE, he asserted that Shawn was angry at his mother and it had gotten worse during the two weeks before his death and he probably committed suicide. In his next sworn deposition a few months later, he drastically altered his statements and told the state attorney that things were especially wonderful between Shawn and his mother during the last two weeks before his death because, as this armchair shrink stated, when people are going to commit suicide they reconcile with their loved ones. It should be noted, that although these witnesses generally trashed Shawn and obviously didn’t care for him or for me, they all agreed that they had never heard Shawn speak of suicide or indicate in any way that he had ever thought about killing himself.

For some reason, the FDLE agents also attacked Shawn’s great love for literature. They wasted time investigating whether he possessed a library card and spent time questioning Tarpon Springs Library personnel regarding the number of books he had checked out. Then they reported that Shawn had not checked any books out since July, four to six weeks before his death, in what seems to be their questionable and useless effort to dispute the fact that he was exceptionally intelligent and well read. It was even carefully documented that he owed a few dollars in fines for not returning a book on time (He was dead). Shawn’s brother constantly accompanied Shawn to the library to check out books and Shawn’s Father, Richard said he was constantly returning finished books to the library for Shawn. He still can’t understand why the authorities were so willing to question the people who hated Shawn, but failed to speak with the people who loved him. If the authorities had talked with his family and closest friends, they would have found that Shawn read the St. Petersburg Times from cover to cover every morning before work, continually read books of every kind including political science, philosophy, history and every novel that he could get his hands on. Why was the victim being investigated instead of the drunken and violent men last seen handling the gun that night?

Sadly, with the help of the state’s unreliable and biased witnesses, the truth was covered up and Shawn was portrayed as a loser and utter failure with no reason to live. They obviously were not looking for anything that would prove that Shawn was a fine young man with a bright future. Instead, they focused attention on a DUI and reckless driving charge in his past and they minimized his numerous achievements down to a very small part of his life and took a very short negative period, inflated and focused attention on that brief time to make it appear to be a huge and all encompassing part of Shawn’s life driving him to suicide. This is simply not true.
Shawn would have been the first one to admit that he had made some mistakes in life, but he was back on his path to success, making every effort to resolve his mistakes, was gainfully employed by my office and by two other attorneys and was looking at his future with American Express with a bright and happy outlook.

Unfortunately, even the State Attorney’s Office seemed set on validating the determination of suicide. Two of the most important issues in this case involved whether Shawn was seated in the middle of the back seat and whether there was blood on Dan Nordmark’s shirt. Official transcripts show that during sworn testimony, Chief Assistant State Attorney, Bruce Bartlett interrupted witnesses and put words into their mouths as to Shawn’s seating position, persuaded an eye witness at the hospital to change her testimony regarding an important issue after going off the record to discuss it; and, when two witnesses, (one of them a Pinellas County Sheriff’s employee), informed him on separate occasions that just hours after Shawn died, Dan Nordmark had stated that the Tarpon Springs police took his shirt the night of the shooting because it was soaked in Shawn’s blood, Mr. Bartlett did not ask questions, did not respond and instead promptly changed the subject, {6}. This critical information disputing Sgt. MacKenzie’s “most conclusive piece of evidence” was simply brushed aside and ignored by the State Attorney’s office. It’s absolutely outrageous.

Upon completion of his investigation, Chief Assistant State Attorney, Bruce Bartlett drafted his report, and indicated that at some point, Shawn McMillan took possession of the gun. But as described above, the FDLE’s report quoting Rita Nordmark on that issue was later proven untrue. And which version of Dan Nordmark’s, Bernie Dillman’s and Jen Pysz’ explanation of how Shawn ended up with the gun, did the State Attorney’s Office choose to believe? Mr. Bartlett also made reference to the FDLE finding high velocity blood spatter on the inside right rear passenger window and their removal of a “hair follicle” with blood from the right rear passenger window. He stated that the blood was tested for DNA and matched the blood found on Shawn McMillan’s clothing. As described above, the FDLE lab report made no mention of high velocity blood spatter on the window, there was no follicle/root on the hair, the blood was not matched to Shawn’s clothing and the DNA evidence simply determined that the hair came from a male. There is not one single piece of credible evidence that Shawn committed suicide.

Bruce Bartlett admits this fact when he goes on to indicate that although, the Medical Examiner, Charles, F. Siebert, Jr. concluded the cause of death to be suicide, the State Attorney’s Office found no other evidence to suggest intentional discharge of the gun by Shawn McMillan. At that time, Rick Morera, spokesman for the FDLE, told the St. Petersburg Times that their FDLE investigation also found no evidence to support anything other than an accidental shooting.
Several experts and interested persons also disputed Dr. Siebert’s determination of suicide as follows: Crime Laboratory Analyst Supervisor, L. Parker reported that a determination as to whether the gunshot wound was or was not self inflicted could not be made from Shawn’s clothing and other items when blood spatter analysis was conducted by the FDLE; Forensic Expert, T.A. LaVoy stated that Dr. Siebert’s conclusion of suicide is not valid, {14}. Mr. LaVoy has an extensive background in forensics and also worked with the FDLE for many years; Stuart James, well known Forensics expert, also indicated that Dr. Siebert’s determination of suicide is invalid in Shawn’s case, {15}. (Stuart James may have been involved in training Siebert and Thogmartin in Forensics); USF expert, Dr. Gary Litman’s DNA analysis report clearly disputes the FDLE agent’s assertions that the hair on the window matched Shawn’s DNA; Former Deputy Commissioner of the FDLE, Dr. J.D. Sewell who headed the investigation has maintained throughout the entire investigation that he does not believe Shawn’s death was the result of suicide; Finally, the more than fifty friends, family members and ATO Fraternity Brothers who knew and loved Shawn made it clear to the State Attorney that Shawn would never kill himself.

Even the Pinellas County State Attorney, Bernie McCabe, recently stated to a former legislator that he told the medical examiner several times that the manner of death should be classified as “undetermined” rather than suicide. Now with the widespread publicity surrounding the Martin Anderson case and Florida’s Attorney General’s request that Shawn’s case and others be reviewed by the Florida Medical Examiner’s Commission, I have heard rumors that the State Attorney’s office is again circulating their witnesses’ baseless lies about my relationship with Shawn.

I believe the reason for this vicious attack is because I have dared to stand up and defy law enforcement and to fight for my son and for what is right. The authorities do not want to be criticized in public and do not want to admit that they relied on false Tarpon Springs police reports, inaccurate FDLE reports, useless DNA evidence and misleading testimony by the Nordmarks’ allies regarding Shawn’s mental status. The authorities know that promoting the lie that I pushed Shawn into committing suicide is the one thing that can completely crush a Mother’s spirit. But they also should know that if they had interviewed the numerous friends, family members and employers who were in close communication with Shawn and with me on a regular basis, they would have learned about the love, laughter and great affection that Shawn and I shared.

The manner in which this case was handled defies all reason and understanding. I’ll never be able to comprehend why corrupt and dishonest police officers and violent drunks were protected by the authorities while my son’s reputation was utterly destroyed. By the time the Tarpon Springs police, the FDLE and the State Attorney’s Office were finished with our family, it made me seriously wonder whether they all relied on Dr. Charles Siebert, the Medical Examiner to determine suicide, and silence the protests and cries of Shawn’s loved ones forever. There is no scientific or legal basis for a determination of suicide in this case. I believe Dr. Siebert’s conclusion is based on numerous material misrepresentations of data and it is doubtful that any reasonably prudent Medical Examiner would find his opinion acceptable.

Florida law places the burden of proving suicide on the State. They have not met their burden and they do not have a single piece of credible evidence that Shawn committed suicide. They have made a mockery of our legal process, tarnished Shawn’s reputation and violated not only the rights of our family, but the rights of all Floridians. This is a matter for great public concern and I hope that all of our citizens take notice of how our officials have handled this investigation.

 

Michaela E. Mahoney
Tel: (727) 942 - 0660
Cell:(727) 804-8000

P.O. Box 1012
Palm Harbor, FL 34682

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