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Osborn isn’t talking about FDLE request to cooperate

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

Kelly Osborn isn’t answering whether she will cooperate with a Florida Department Law Enforcement request to release requested evidence needed to conclude the investigation into her daughter’s 2009 death in Bradenton Beach.

Sheena Morris, 22, was found dead in a BridgeWalk Resort room hanging from the shower head by a dog leash. Her death was ruled a suicide, but later changed to undetermined in 2011 after a private forensic pathologist spoke to the medical examiner about his conclusions.

It was Dr. Michael Berkland’s contention — hired by Osborn — from the file photos that the crime scene could have been staged. However, Berkland’s reputation was called into question when it was discovered that he had twice been fired from medical examiner duties. A storage unit belonging to Berkland also was found to have human organs being stored in common household containers.

Osborn’s contention is that her daughter was murdered and a public campaign to have her daughter’s death investigated further came to fruition in September when an FDLE SMART panel recommended that the Bradenton Beach Police Department take additional steps in its investigation.

BBPD Police Chief Sam Speciale administratively reopened the case, and FDLE agents were assigned to assist the department.

The investigation stalled last month when BBPD — at the behest of FDLE — requested Morris’ computer, medical and psychological records. Osborn refused to release the items to BBPD.

She has maintained that BBPD botched her daughter’s death investigation and, in a letter back to Speciale, said she had no intention of releasing anything to his department.

Her refusal to cooperate spurred a Dec. 3 letter from FDLE Special Agent in charge John Burke to Osborn asking for her cooperation in releasing the requested items. Osborn has insisted that BBPD be removed from the investigation and that FDLE take charge.

Burke explained to Osborn that FDLE has no jurisdictional authority to take over an investigation and that BBPD remains in control of the investigation, but with FDLE assistance.

The Islander obtained a copy of Burke’s letter under a public records request and Osborn then expressed displeasure over the letter’s release, although other communications between Osborn and BBPD have been made public.

Following The Islander Dec. 12 report on Burke’s letter, Osborn sent an email to the city of Bradenton Beach, calling once again for FDLE to take over the investigation. She also called for disciplinary action to be taken against Speciale for the release of the letter as public record.

Osborn complained that the letter was “confidential” and it should not have been released.

However, in spite of Osborn’s protest, the letter was not marked confidential.

FDLE also has confirmed that the letter was not marked confidential.

Osborn would not answer questions from The Islander if she would cooperate and release the requested items to BBPD.

Burke further offered to have FDLE agents pick up the items, but she cited a request from Burke to limit her public comments on the investigation as a reason not to respond to further questions.

Burke explained in his letter to Osborn that her continual public appearances discussing the investigation could be harmful to the investigation.

However, on learning of The Islander’s Dec. 12 story, she contacted other media outlets insisting to them that Speciale released a “confidential” letter during an open investigation.

She also accused The Islander of wrongdoing by reporting FDLE’s push for her cooperation.

“Your paper will reap the repercussions of your actions,” she said in a Dec. 11 email to The Islander.

In regards to whether she will comply with the FDLE request, Osborn told The Islander, “I cannot respond at this time. The release of this letter is under review,” but she would not say by whom.

“You will be hearing plenty about this article that was published, and it won’t be from me,” Osborn wrote to The Islander.

Osborn accused The Islander of misleading the public by reporting that the investigation is an “administrative” action, but Speciale is in charge and can and has termed the reopening as administrative in nature.

In a Dec. 13 email, Osborn backed away from her statements against The Islander, saying, “My issue isn’t with you publishing the article. My issue is with the chief releasing it … the chief knew or should know as law enforcement that this is an open investigation.”

However, it is not classified as an open investigation, according to Speciale.

The Islander pressed Osborn for a yes or no answer if she intended to cooperate with the FDLE request, but she has opted not to reply.

As of press time, BBPD and FDLE say there was no response as to her intentions.

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