SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Austin Lockey was a healthy man, enjoyed exercising, and didn’t drink or smoke. That’s how his brother described Lockey who suddenly died last year. To date, his family still doesn’t know what caused his death.
“There was no obvious signs of death and when the medical examiner checked his body and ran the toxicology reports he wasn’t able to find anything,” said Isaiah Parramore, Lockey’s brother.
Parramore is now on a mission. He wants to know how and why his brother died. On January 4th, 2021, he was found slumped at his desk.
He was a partner in the Infantry Defense Systems company. They manufacture weapons.
The official cause of death has not been determined by the state medical examiner. The death certificate listed the cause of death as “pending.”
It’s rare but those results happen, according to Todd Grey, a retired chief medical examiner for the state of Utah.
“It’s not that unusual with any death investigation system, you can expect between one-and-three-percent cases, will have one death having no clear answer as to how this person died or what caused this person to die,” said Grey.
But Lockey’s family is convinced something caused him to suddenly die.
“Throughout his life, he’s been against drugs, alcohol, cigarettes. he had not partaken in those things,” said the brother. “(He was) very healthy, very fit, lots of exercise. just a very healthy person.”
The family hired a private investigator after becoming frustrated with the police investigation and the findings of the medical examiner.
“The response (by police) has been slow and difficult,” Parramore said. “It feels like pulling teeth. I feel brushed off, not given the high priority that is needed.”
A spokesman for the Salt Lake City Police Department said detectives “thoroughly investigated this death” and at this point, there is no evidence this is a “homicide.”
Meanwhile, the private investigator has been following the family’s theory that Lockey was poisoned.
“They strongly believe it was a homicide,” said Michael Gunn. “But they are struggling to find out what was used to poison him.”
Parramore suspects his death was linked to his business.
“It was very unusual and very suspicious,” said Parramore. “He was in the middle of a lot of legal drama involving his current business and a prior business of his. There was a lot of money at stake. There was plenty of motive for people wanting Austin to not be here anymore.”
The private investigator found the timing of Lockey’s death suspicious as well.
“What happened was Lockey realized funding was misused,” said Gunn.
That happened on December 31, 2021, and he was found dead Monday morning. The timing matches.
According to Parramore, police attempted to question his partner who is well known in law enforcement circles.
Parramore said police have been unsuccessful in interviewing Michael Drury, Lockey’s partner in the business.
“There is one person (Drury) who he has not been able to get a hold of and despite several attempts to (even having) agreements for an appointment, it has fallen through every time,” said Parramore.
Despite numerous requests, Drury did not return calls or emails from ABC4.
Drury has had numerous civil lawsuits filed against him. But he drew public attention in 2018. He was charged with taking more than $300,000 from the Salt Lake County honorary colonel coffers.
The organization provides color guards and helps widows of fallen officers. Drury was their president at the time of the charges. In 2019, Drury was interviewed by ABC4 in which he denied the charges. The case is still pending.
Lockey’s brother who also served in the military claimed the alleged poison can’t be detected.
“I think it is highly likely that he was poisoned with something that metabolizes very quickly,” said Parramore.
The state’s former medical examiner said that’s a possibility.
“There are physical processes that can occur and cause death that may leave no footprints,” said Grey.
But he also said it is nearly impossible to detect a chemical unless forensic scientists know what substance to look for.
Meanwhile, police claim they are continuing to investigate the case and are seeking tips to help solve this mystery. Here’s their entire statement sent to ABC4:
“The Salt Lake City Police Department thoroughly investigated this death and processed and reviewed all available evidence, including requesting a comprehensive toxicology screen from an out-of-state lab for forensic review. The department followed all available and lawful leads in this case and there is nothing that indicates, at this time, that this is a homicide. Like in any death investigation, if there is additional evidence or information obtained or provided to the Salt Lake City Police Department, we will review and process that material to chase down every lead to pursue answers. At this point, we have exhausted all leads, as described above, in this case. This is a complex case yet the homicide detectives of the Salt Lake City Police Department have diligently investigated it. Anyone who has information on this case should call 801-799-3000.”