The body of a former Texas mayor ruled by authorities to have been killed by an aggressive donkey jack can be exhumed, a judge has ruled, as his widow pursues her suspicion that he was murdered.
Judge Laura Salinas granted permission for the family of former Hollywood Park Mayor Bill Bohlke to have his body exhumed for a post mortem.
Salinas delivered the ruling in the 166th District Court at the end of a brief hearing.
Atascosa County attorney Charles Frigerio did not oppose the exhumation request, but said he did not consider that the county should meet the cost.
Bohlke, 65, died late in August 2012 from what authorities decided was an attack by the donkey on his ranch in Atascosa County.
“We stand by what the investigation shows until someone else shows us something different,” Frigerio said.
However, the victim’s widow, Tonia Bohlke, wants the investigation into his death reopened and the exhumation was sought to allow a postem mortem examination. No autopsy was conducted on the retired air force pilot at the time of his death.
The family’s attorney, Edgardo Baez. said: “The evidence shows that he was beaten – that he was brutally murdered. So, finally, let’s get the answers that the family deserves.”
The family already has the approval of the federal government to exhume Bohlke’s body and it is understood they must now obtain the necessary order from a justice of the peace to get it under way. Bohlke’s body lies at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
His family argues that multiple questions remain over his death.
The death was investigated at the time by the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office, which held the stud donkey responsible.
However, a private investigator hired by Mrs Bohlke argued there was evidence to show he may have been murdered, including what he said appeared to be a boot print on Bohlke’s back.
Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward asked former chief medical examiner Vincent DiMaio to review evidence in Bohlke’s death in the interests of justice.
DiMaio’s findings were released about a month ago.
Sheriff Soward said DiMaio’s conclusion, after reviewing all the evidence and photographs, was that Bohlke’s injuries were inflicted by the donkey, including bite marks on his arms and a hoof print contusion on his back.
“Dr DiMaio stated that it was his opinion that Mr Bohlke attempted to fight off the donkey based on what he observed.
“[He] also concluded that Mr Bohlke was able to get under the trailer, where he was found lying on his side using his hands for a pillow.
“He also thought it was highly likely that Mr Bohlke died as a result of his heart condition rather than the actual injuries inflicted from the donkey.”
Soward said the case would remain closed, as far as his office was concerned.
“We realize how difficult this tragic death has been on his family and we certainly sympathize with them,” he added.
He stressed that the case had been taken very seriously from the outset.
“If we had seen anything that indicated there may have been foul play involved or that another human being had been present that day, we would still be diligently working this, but that is just not the case. The evidence is clear.”