If I were a member of Birmingham's Bashinsky family--and had plenty of money, as they seem to have--I would promptly put in a call to Paul Ciolino.
Who is Paul Ciolino? He is a Chicago-based private investigator who recently announced that he had helped determine that the death of boxing great Arturo Gatti was not a suicide, contrary to the official findings of authorities in Brazil. Gatti was found dead in his room at a Brazilian resort in July 2009, and it was ruled a suicide by hanging.
The private investigation proved so compelling that officials in Brazil announced that they are reopening their official inquiry. What did the PIs find? Reports the Associated Press:
Experts said . . . Gatti suffered a head injury before being strangled. They also said the strap he allegedly used wasn't strong enough to hold up his body.
Noted forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht says the position of the body and other evidence shows Gatti was the victim of strangulation.
One can only wonder what the Gatti PIs would make of the Major Bashinsky case. A prominent lawyer and the son of a well-known Alabama businessman, Bashinsky was reported missing in March 2010, and his body was found floating in a golf-course water hazard. Officials found that Bashinsky died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, although there have been no reports of anything that might have driven the affluent, 63-year-old attorney to take his own life.
The Bashinsky autopsy report presents no scientific evidence that points to suicide. News reports, and the autopsy report itself, have been filled with inconsistencies and unanswered questions.
Circumstances surrounding the Arturo Gatti death have been bizarre from the outset--but they probably have nothing on the Bashinsky case. Gatti lived in New Jersey, and here is how a newspaper there described his death:
The immensely popular Gatti, who was born in Montreal but called Jersey City home, was found dead in his room by his wife, Amanda Rodrigues, on July 11, 2009. She was initially charged with murder but on July 30 the charges were dropped and Rodrigues was released by Brazilian authorities. Gatti's death was ruled a suicide by hanging.
Authorities in Brazil said at the time that Gatti was drunk and despondent over his failing marriage. They said he used Rodrigues' purse strap to hang himself, as his wife and son, Arturo Jr., slept upstairs.
Brazilian officials actually came up with a more believable story than the one we've been handed in the Bashinsky case. They at least stated that Gatti was "drunk and despondent over his failing marriage."
|Major Bashinsky death scene|
What does a private investigator think about the official explanation in the Arturo Gatti case? Not much:
Ciolino told The Jersey Journal . . . that the Brazilian investigation was "half-assed" and "The autopsy was totally incomplete. They did a lot of things that were not acceptable practice anywhere in the world. It was just totally inaccurate."
We have published the medical examiner's report in the Bashinsky case (see document below), and we'd say that investigation would have to improve to reach the "half-assed" level.
The Bashinsky family would not have to go all the way to Chicago to find a capable PI. I'm sure we have plenty of them right here in Alabama or elsewhere in the South.
For the record, we do not know that someone in the Bashinsky family hasn't already consulted a PI. We only know that nothing has been reported about it. In a disturbing twist to the Major Bashinsky story, one of his cousins, Charles "Bubba" Major, was reported to have expressed doubts about the official finding and wound up dead himself--also reportedly a suicide.
Bubba Major was one of Alabama's finest golfers, and I interviewed him several times during my days as a sportswriter at the now-defunct Birmingham Post-Herald. Bubba Major was a big man, with a big personality, and I got the impression that he would not be easily intimidated or quieted. Did he ask too many questions for his own good regarding the death of his cousin?
Perhaps now is a good time to clear up something. I've had several readers ask, "Who do you think murdered Major Bashinsky?" or "Why do you think he was murdered?" I've never said that I think Major Bashinsky was murdered. The main point I've tried to get across is this: The information that we have from news accounts and the autopsy report does not lead to a conclusion of suicide; in fact, it doesn't even point very strongly in that direction.
Based on my research, the manner of death in the Major Bashinsky case should have been classified as "undetermined"--and a serious investigation should have ensued. That never happened. And that's why another set of professional eyes needs to take a look at the case.
If I were a friend or relative of Major Bashinsky--and had the necessary resources--I would not rest until a real investigation was conducted.
Actually, I am aware of one private investigator who has taken a brief look at the Bashinsky case. He was not being paid by anyone, so he could only do so much. But he visited the apparent crime scene and talked with individuals at a key location in the Bashinsky story. He discovered information that adds even more doubts to the official finding of suicide. We will examine that information in an upcoming post.