Autopsy indicates Milford man was murdered

MILFORD – The sister and the attorney of a Milford man who died in Saudi Arabia earlier this year say an autopsy points to foul play.

The autopsy of Christopher Cramer was performed March 1 by a high-profile medical examiner in New York who concluded that his body had injuries that could not be accounted for by a fall from a hotel balcony. Dr. Michael Baden, former New York City medical examiner and a forensic science contributor to Fox News, did not rule out homicide as a cause of death.

Cramer, 50, was in Saudi Arabia on behalf of defense contractor Kollsman, of Merrimack, and its parent company, Elbit Systems of America, when he died Jan. 15.

A fellow employee discovered the body beneath the third-floor balcony of his hotel.

Based on a report from the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia, Kollsman officials initially said the death was a suicide, something that family and friends had said is impossible.

His body was recently flown from Saudi Arabia to New York City, where the autopsy was performed. Baden’s preliminary report said the multiple serious injuries could not be explained by a single fall, according to Cramer’s friend and attorney, Noah Mandell.

Cramer’s sister, Jennifer Kelly, of Nashua, said the examination proves that “something happened to him” before the fall.

Mandell and Kelly fault Kollsman, saying the defense contractor should have done more to assure their employee’s safety.

Cramer had been employed by Kollsman for 12 years, and was in Saudi Arabia to demonstrate the operation of thermal optical devices that are part of missile systems.

Mandell believes his friend had a confrontation with a corrupt Saudi agent of another military contracting firm who sabotaged the equipment in what Mandell calls an “old used car trick.”

By demonstrating that Kollsman products were working as they should, he said, Cramer interfered with a potentially lucrative plan.

Two days before Cramer left for Saudi Arabia, Mandell said, “He was standing in my doorway asking what he needs to know” about the country.

“We shouldn’t be sending our contractors to a country where they are not protected, without security,” Kelly said. “This could have been prevented.”

Mandell missed two phone calls from Cramer on the night he died, but Cramer’s roommate, Shad Smith, of Milford, received a text message the same night saying, “I’m in the Marakim tabuk hotel in Saudi. I think something bad is going to happen to me tonight. Please contact state ddept (sic) ASAP. Bad things were said.”

Cramer’s next text message gave his hotel room number: “Room 315.”

Kollsman Vice President Clark Freise said in an email, “We are relieved that Mr. Cramer’s body has been returned to his family. The family requested that an independent autopsy be performed in the U.S., and we provided the funds for that to be completed. We continue to support the family, and we continue to ask the U.S. State Department to push local officials, as we did in the repatriation of Mr. Cramer’s body, to complete their investigation and produce a full and complete police report as to the cause of death.”