Family Reflects on Years-Long Journey to Prove Father of 4 Didn’t Commit Suicide
Investigators in Chesterfield, Virginia, are speaking out for the first time since reclassifying a father’s death as a homicide on May 9, after more than two years of his family pushing police for answers and a series of investigations by CBS6.
Nick Clavier died from a gunshot wound to the head on Oct. 24, 2015. His family has been seeking answers to what really happened to Nick ever since the death was initially ruled as accidental.
Chesterfield County Police Captain Jay Thornton says that the major shift in the case comes after testing and new information from witnesses. The status of the investigation into Nick’s death was changed several times, from accidental, to undetermined, and now to homicide.
His wife, Melody, visited Nick’s gravesite to share the good news. “We finally did it!” she said with tears over Nick’s headstone.
Nick Claver was driving with his four children on a fishing trip when he was shot in the head. The car slid down an embankment and slammed into a tree. Officials initially determined that Nick’s gun had accidentally discharged, but the children say Nick was shot by someone else.
Nick’s daughter, Mikayla, was in the passenger seat. Mikayla said she saw a man pointing a gun from a car that had pulled up next to them.
“I heard a loud noise,” she said. “I looked over and saw my dad, he was bleeding and blood was going everywhere.”
Mikayla saw the car but didn’t catch the license plate because it drove away quickly, although she recalled it was greenish gray with a stripe down the middle.
In December 2016, ballistics came back on the bullet recovered from Nick’s brain. The bullet could not have been fired from the pistol found in Nick’s vehicle, which makes it “impossible to exclude homicide,” according to the report.
No gunpowder was found on Nick’s hands. The medical examiner’s report also stated that “the wound path is very unusual for a self-inflicted wound.” But at the time, investigators did not appear convinced. They told Melody that the bullet left in the chamber could have been from a gun range, and that’s why it didn’t match.
After the family was interviewed by CBS6 in May 2017, police changed the status of the case from cleared to pending. In December 2017, Chesterfield Police went back to the field where Clavier crashed and spent around six hours digging for clues.
Melody said she broke down in tears last week when police informed her of the news. Nick’s death certificate stated that he “shot self with handgun,” but the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner called her on May 14 to say that it’s officially been changed to homicide.
“I think it is very big of them to be able to look at me and say that they are genuinely sorry for the fact that it has taken this long to get this answer… this ruling,” she said.
“I knew from the beginning in my heart that he would have never been capable of that, but just to finally have somebody say yeah okay the kids were right… it’s just an overwhelming feeling of mixed emotions,” she added.
“I know my dad loved me, so he would never put me in danger,” said Mikayla.
“It was very hard for people to think he would put us in danger like that and I am very relieved now that people know he didn’t put us in danger, that it wasn’t his fault.”
By Mimi Nguyen Ly