Editor’s note: The story has been updated to include a comment from the Naval Criminal Investigative Services and correct the spelling of the spokesperson’s name.
The family of a Longmont Marine who died last year hopes exhuming his body this week will provide some answers about his death.
Marine Lance Cpl. Riley Schultz, 19, was found with a gunshot wound to the head March 15, 2019, at Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base in San Diego County, Calif. Schultz had been serving with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. While the Marine Corps’ lead medical examiner ruled last year that Schultz’s death was a suicide, his family doesn’t believe that’s the cause.
Schultz’s mom, Misty Schultz-McCoy of Longmont, said in a text message that her son’s body was being exhumed Tuesday and taken from the Loveland Burial Park to the Larimer County Coroner’s Office for a “state of the art scan.” She said the family hopes to find answers with the process and learn more about his external injuries and general physical appearance.
“At the moment, the plan is to re-bury him on Thursday,” she wrote. “The military has not been involved whatsoever with the exhumation. His case is still technically an ‘open investigation,’ with the NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Services).”
The NCIS didn’t respond to a request to confirm the case is ongoing before deadline Tuesday. On Wednesday, Ed Buice, the NCIS public affairs officer, said that the NCIS investigation into Schultz’s death was closed in June. He said that if an exhumation was being conducted, it was not at the request of the NCIS.
Larimer County Coroner James Wilkerson said the coroner’s office was “not involved in this exhumation or the investigation.”
“We did do a Lodox scan at the request of and paid for by the family,” Wilkerson wrote in an email.
He explained that a Lodox scan documents injuries and foreign bodies, using a low-dose of radiation for a rapid scan.
Jennifer A. Vallee, chief, public and congressional affairs with the Armed Medical Forces Medical Examiner System in Delaware, wrote in an email that the system was not aware of or involved in Schultz’s exhumation.
On the day of his death, Schultz was scheduled between 3:50 and 5 a.m. to stand fire watch over his platoon’s vehicles and equipment. A fellow Marine, who arrived to relieve Schultz, found Schultz with a gunshot would to the head, according to a statement released last year by Capt. Paul Gainey, the spokesman for the 1st Marine Division.
Schultz-McCoy listed several reasons Tuesday why she believes her son did not take his own life.
Schultz was scheduled for a deployment to South Africa and planned to visit his family before then. A week before his death, he purchased a plane ticket to come home in mid-April, according to prior Times-Call reporting. Schultz-McCoy said he had several dates lined up for when he returned home on leave. The month before his death, Schultz had told his mother that, upon her death, he would care for his older brother, who has a schizoaffective disorder.
Additionally, she said that Schultz was 3 years old when he was a passenger in a car crash that killed his father on June 24, 2003. She said the crash was caused by a teen driving in a wrong lane and attempting suicide.
“He lived literally every single day from age 3 until his death with the consequences of suicide and would’ve never done that to us,” she wrote.
Schultz’s mother previously said to the Times-Call that she had initially been told by Marine investigators hat her son’s death was not a suicide.
Schultz’s family also had been sent a certificate for a gold star from the Secretary of the Navy which stated, “In grateful memory of Lance Cpl. Riley Alexander Schultz who died while in the service of our country as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps.”
However, twelve days after Schultz’s death, the Marine Corps released another statement, this time saying the lead medical examiner had ruled that Schultz died of suicide.
Schultz-McCoy said the family doesn’t know how long the prcess will take to get answers from the new scan. After his body is exhumed, Schultz’s remains will be returned to the Loveland Burial Park, where he will again be laid to rest next to his biological father.