FLINTSTONE, GA — On October 3, 2016, Donald Edward “DJ” Fickey, 27, died from a single shotgun wound to the face. Immediately afterward, a frantic caller dialed 911 and claimed Fickey had fired the weapon at himself during a struggle. Questions have only continued to arise since then.
Officially, DJ Fickey’s death was ruled a suicide. The unidentified individual who called 911 told police that Fickey had pulled the shotgun on him and he attempted to wrestle it away. During the fracas, the caller said, the weapon went off.
From there, the caller was named as a person of interest in the case and was subjected to a polygraph test. Reportedly, the polygraph indicated that the person of interest was not being truthful — although that’s still not sufficient evidence for police to make an arrest.
In the meantime, loved ones and other advocates for Fickey, however, are actively campaigning to get his death declared a homicide and the case reopened.
Amanda Shirley, Fickey’s sister, describes her brother as a recovering drug addict who had turned his life around. Shirley also acknowledges, however, that Fickey had a prior reputation as a lawbreaker and that the dwelling where he died was a known “drug den.”
Regardless, Shirley staunchly points out what she says are inconsistencies in the official account. Among the claims Shirley makes:
• The 911 dispatcher told the caller to unload the shotgun and move it, which may have compromised the scene. This call exists on tape.
• The person of interest was reported to have had a sexual past with Fickey’s wife, and some people who knew them both said he had a new romantic interest in her.
• The person of interest reportedly changed his story multiple times during police interviews.
• The shotgun used in Fickey’s death was reportedly never subjected to forensic tests for fingerprints, blood, or other evidence. It allegedly remains untouched in the Walker County evidence locker.
In pursuing what they hope will be justice, Fickey’s family has retained private investigator Eric Echols, who believes the case should be reopened.
Echols points out that Fickey was right-handed, but the shotgun blast hit him at an angle that may not indicate self-injury. Echols also says:
“None of the crime-scene photos have the shotgun next to DJ. The crime-scene photos have the shotgun on the table.”
In addition, Echols maintains that the Medical Examiner (ME) ruled Fickey’s death a suicide prior to having all her information in order. He said:
“The ME did not have all the facts when she ruled it a suicide. In fact, she did not know the detective stated the case changed from a suicide to a homicide. The detective nor medical examiner never had any contact with each other. Then after meeting with me, they ran toxicology and found meth in his system and stated because of that, it was a suicide because meth is a stimulant and DJ could have defended himself. But there was also marijuana found in his system, which is a depressant, and the ME never commented on that.”
Although Walker County Police ultimately changed their determination of Fickey’s death to “possible homicide,” higher authorities are standing by the original suicide ruling at present.
Specifically, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) officially declared in 2017:
“A GBI Medical Examiner conducted an examination of Mr. Fickey’s injury. Based on the results of this examination, which includes a physical examination and information obtained from the Walker County Sheriff’s Office investigation, the manner of death was ruled a suicide. Subsequently, the Medical Examiner’s Office reviewed additional information connected to this case and performed further forensic testing. Based on the review, the results of the manner of death remain unchanged as the new information provided did not support a new finding.”
Regardless, Allison Shirley and Fickey’s other loved ones vow to continue agitating for murder charges to be filed. As Shirley has proclaimed: “I won’t stop fighting for my brother until the day I die.”
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Main photo: DJ Fickey [screenshot from episode/Investigation Discovery]