The Mysterious Death of Hunter S. Thompson

On the 20th February, 2005, legendary journalist Hunter S Thompson committed suicide

At least, that’s the official story The notoriously anti-establishment reporter was working on groundbreaking research right up until his death Evidence suggests his demise was not all that it seems Was the world famous reporter about to reveal something so shocking it cost him his life? Born in 1937, Thompson became an icon of 1960s and 1970s counterculture A strong believer in personal liberty, he was a hero of the NRA and the anti-war, anti-corruption youth movement of his day

He invented a new kind of journalism he called “gonzo”, where the reporter is so involved in the events they cover that they become part of the story Widely known for heavily abusing alcohol and illegal drugs, he is best known for writing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas He was 67 years old when his family found him dead in his kitchen at his home of Owl Farm, in Woody Creek, Colorado He had a gunshot wound in the head, and a Smith and Wesson model 645 semi-automatic handgun lay on the floor by his side Rolling Stone magazine later published this suicide note, written in Thompson’s distinctive style: “No More Games

No More Bombs No More Walking No More Fun No More Swimming 67

That is 17 years past 50 17 more than I needed or wanted Boring I am always bitchy No Fun — for anybody

67 You are getting Greedy Act your (old) age Relax — This won't hurt” The police closed the case as a non-criminal death

Thompson had died from a self-inflicted gun wound Yet almost immediately upon breaking news of his death, The New York Times reported there was something odd about it all When Thompson shot himself, his son Juan was in the next room along with his wife and child Literally moments before he died, Hunter called his wife Anita at the Aspen Club and asked her to return home to help him write an article for ESPN He hadn’t hung up when the fatal shot was fired

Furthermore, the New York Times noted there irregularities in the police investigation No autopsy was carried out on Hunter’s body By all accounts, he was upbeat in the days and moments before his suicide He was in the middle of researching and writing an article What’s more, the supposed suicide note was written four days before his death

In reality, the typewriter in front of him held a piece of paper with a note dated “Feb 22 ‘05” that simply said, “counselor” Then there is the police report on the gun Although there was a spent shell on the floor, and six bullets in the magazine, the chamber was empty Yet the Smith and Wesson 645 should have fed a cartridge into the chamber as long as there were bullets in the clip According to conspiracy theorist Ralph Lopez, this raises the possibility that the gun on the ground did not fall from Thompson’s hand

Then there are the sounds heard by Hunter’s family From the adjacent room, his son Juan and his wife say they heard a dull thud like a book falling on the floor Over the phone, Hunter’s wife Anita says she heard a clicking sound, which she thought was the noise of his typewriter However, the handgun by his side is known for its very loud report The same handgun makes a definite clicking sound when a silencer is attached

But no silencer was found at the scene Ralph Lopez therefore suggests the dull thud heard by Juan was the sound of the bullet hitting the stove behind Hunter, and Anita heard Hunter’s final seconds – as an assassin pulled the trigger while Hunter was distracted on the phone Then they planted Thompson’s empty gun – hastily adding a magazine without making sure a bullet was in the chamber – to disguise the murder Hunter described his home as his ‘fortified compound’, but it would have been relatively easy for a lone murderer to sneak up to the house through the woods that surrounded it But why would anyone murder him? Hunter’s friend Paul William Roberts claimed he was working on a story about the attack on the World Trade Centre at the time of his death, and was poised to reveal it was an inside job

Hunter was powerfully against the War in Iraq and the Bush administration – it is not hard to imagine he was chasing the truth behind 9/11 In 2003 Hunter said in an interview, “Bush is really the evil one here and it is more than just him… I mean to say something… we'll see what happens to me, if I get my head cut off next week — it is always unknown or bushy-haired strangers who commit suicide right afterwards with no witnesses"" Yet, another friend of Thompson’s, Ralph Steadman, recalled, “[Hunter] once said to me, 'I'd feel real trapped in this life, Ralph, if I didn't know I could commit suicide at any moment” More significantly, Anita and Juan are convinced Hunter killed himself Decades of drug and alcohol abuse had taken its toll on his body

He had numerous health problems and was in close to constant pain His leg had been broken, making him virtually housebound, and he was about to have another major back surgery to alleviate his condition He suffered depression, which was at its most acute during February Finally, it is possible the the 645 did not feed a cartridge into the chamber, even though it was fired Unfortunately, police investigators did not examine the weapon closely enough to determine if it misfed a cartridge into the chamber, or whether the magazine had been added afterwards

Thompson’s family have always accepted the official coroner’s verdict As far as they are concerned, Thompson committed suicide to escape the miseries of his life, to avoid the further ravages of old age His physical and psychological issues still feed into debates about how to help those with mental health problems and how we should avert suicide in our society Nevertheless, there are still suspicious circumstances around his death, and the police files are frustratingly unsatisfying Was he about to expose the government’s dark secrets? If he was, a single bullet made sure he never did

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