Michael Stahlman’s Death: How Did Michael Stahlman Die? Was it a Murder or Suicide? – Colonel Michael Stahlman, a former flying officer and military attorney, was found with a gunshot wound to the head in his quarters in July 2008 as he was ready to return from Iraq with his family for some R&R. He was sent to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after being airlifted for emergency care, where he passed away on October 5, 2008. Colonel Mike Stahlman’s terrible demise is the subject of CBS News’ “48 Hours: Widow’s War.”
Kim has never thought her husband shot himself, despite the Armed Forces Medical Examiner’s determination that it was a suicide. Kim has persisted in her effort to show that her husband did not commit suicide, even after more than ten years had passed. If you’re interested, we can tell you all you want to know about what happened on that tragic day in July 2008. So let’s get started, shall we?
Must Read: Where Are Kim and MacKenna Stahlman Now?
Michael Stahlman’s Cause of Death
Michael “Mike” Ross Stahlman, USMC, was the youngest of his three siblings and the offspring of a US Department employee. As a result of his father’s work, he was raised in India, Jordan, Panama, and Maryland. Following a chance encounter in an evening club in April 1987, Mike and Kimberley “Kim” Tyler Walters got married six months later. They both gave birth to two girls, Piper (1997) and MacKenna (2004).
According to writer Suzanna Andrews, Mike was ruggedly attractive with a sparkling smile and penetrating grey eyes when they were teenagers. Suzanna and Mike both grew up on the same block in Chevy Chase. He was “the classic all-American guy – really nice, very confident, very decent.”
Before graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985, Mike completed his training as a military pilot officer and in the F-4 fighter program. He continued on to law school while receiving funding from the Corps, and in 1993, California Western School of Law granted him a law degree. He also earned a master’s degree from the Judge Advocate’s School in Charlottesville, Virginia, and later worked there as a lecturer and vice-chair of the criminal law division. Mike received a promotion to full colonel in 2007.
The only thing missing from Mike’s otherwise stellar career was the fact that he had never worked in a combat area. Therefore, in January 2008, Mike volunteered for a one-year deployment to Iraq even though he was eligible for retirement. This is his last hurrah, you know, as Kim put it. He has this as his goal. As of July 2008, Mike worked in various criminal justice capacities while stationed with the Marines in Camp Ramadi, close to Baghdad. He was an Ironman triathlete who also competed in other sports. Mike followed the rules and arrived on time.
On July 31, 2008, after Mike failed to show up for a convoy, a Sergeant went to see how he was doing. He discovered Mike’s barracks unlocked and him unconscious in bed with a head injury. The bullet that purportedly passed through Mike’s head and the wall of his apartment was found on the floor of a storage locker in the housing complex next door.
Although unconscious, the 45-year-old was still alive. He was promptly taken to an Iraqi hospital by first aid personnel, and from there, he was flown to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Unfortunately, Michael passed away on October 5, 2008.
Was the Demise of Michael Stahlman a homicide or a Suicide?
“Kim, sorry about what you are about the [sic] find out. I love you and always will. You and the girls are the best thing that ever happened to me. Love, Mike.”
Regards, Mike This was Mike’s final email to Kim before the tragic incident, which would later confirm his death as a suicide, according to the authorities. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner concluded that Mike had committed suicide in light of the autopsy and a Naval Criminal Inquiry Service (NCIS) investigation. Mark Reynolds, a blood stain expert who worked with NCIS, stated that “I see no evidence of homicide in the materials provided to me whatsoever.”
There is no evidence to substantiate anything other than a suicide, Reynolds continued. In agreement with the conclusions, the Maryland Department of Vital Records then issued a death certificate. Kim, though, was adamant that Mike had killed himself. She argued that he had been murdered, supporting her claim with the opinions of several specialists and several circumstantial pieces of evidence. In addition, she had combed through thousands of pages of records obtained by repeatedly submitting Freedom of Information requests to NCIS.
Mike was right-handed, but the bullet wound went to his left side of the head, which was the crux of Kim’s defense. She said that Mike had written to her about how eager he was to see his family on the 15-day break he was entitled to, which was due to begin in early September 2008.
In addition, she claimed that Mike had created many formidable enemies due to his efforts to expose corruption inside the ranks of the US Marines. Kim’s ally in this argument was Mike Maloney, a former NCIS forensics expert, who used evidence like the blood splatter on the bedsheet and the gunshot residue on the wall to support his claim that it was a homicide.
Other people who expressed their support for her were Mike’s coworkers, who denied that Mike was depressed, Cilla McCain, an advocate for the bereaved families of army personnel, and Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction during the George W. Bush administration. Since the truth is still unknown, the entire matter ultimately comes down to disagreements between many specialists on both sides.
Mike’s family is aware that they may never be able to establish how he passed away, but they still have nothing but admiration for him and his way of life. It’s my responsibility to continue on his legacy and do great things so that he’ll be happy with me in whatever I do in life, said Mike Stahlman’s elder daughter, MacKenna Stahlman, who is now in her early 20s. My father was the best man I have ever met and possibly will ever meet.