State Department pressed on man’s death

MILFORD – New Hamp­shire’s congressional del­egation is pressing the U.S. State Department to investigate the death of a Milford man in Saudi Ara­bia in January.

Christopher Cramer, 50, was representing Kolls­man, Inc. of Merrimack when his body was found beneath the third floor balcony of his hotel in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. An autopsy by Dr. Michael Baden, the recently re­tired medical examiner for the New York State Police, determined the death was a homicide and suggests Cramer was se­verely beaten before he fell or was pushed off the balcony.

A spokesman for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said the senator contacted the White House asking for the case to get special at­tention and has asked the state department how it plans to handle it.

The autopsy "is further confirmation that Chris­topher Cramer’s death needs a thorough inves­tigation," the spokesman said in an email.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s spokesperson said she had met with Kollsman representatives and also spoke to the family sev­eral times and contacted the State Department to help get Cramer’s remains home.

"Justice must be served in this case," a spokesman

Kuster wrote in an email that said the congress­woman has been in touch with the State Depart­ment to monitor "the trou­bling situation and urge further steps to be taken."

Cramer had been em­ployed by Kollsman for 12 years and was working with the Saudis on ther­mal optical devices that are part of the country’s missile systems.

Less than an hour before he died on Jan. 15 Cramer sent a text message to his roommate in Milford that said, "I think something bad is going to happen to me tonight. Please contact state ddept (sic) ASAP," and gave his hotel name and room number.

Kollsman officials ini­tially told the family the death was a suicide, based, they said, on infor­mation from the U.S. em­bassy. Family and friends say that, knowing Cramer, suicide was impossible.

There were three autop­sy reports. The first was produced in Saudi Arabia that did not mention sui­cide and said death was caused by "multiple trau­matic injuries after a fall from height."

After Cramer’s body was shipped to New York, Baden issued a prelimi­inary report saying the in­juries point to homicide. A later report, issued in March, goes into more detail, saying the death was due to homicide and the body had extensive injuries that could not be explained by the impact from a single fall.

"A person could stab himself and then jump," but to damage his body the way Cramer’s body was damaged was not possible," Baden said last week. "He had suffered fractures before the fall."

A toxicology report says there was no sign of drugs or alcohol in Cra­mer’s body.

Shad Smith, Cramer’s roommate in Milford, said last week that "all of us knew" suicide was not possible, and Kollsman of­ficials acted irresponsibly when they told the family it was the cause of death.

Cramer’s sister Jen­nifer Kelley, of Nashua, said she never had any doubt that her brother’s death was not a suicide.

"My bond with my brother was extremely close … he had a healthy lifestyle and was a good guy," she said.

Cramer’s body was re­turned to the family na­ked and in a steel casket, she said, and none of his belongings, including his clothes, have been re­turned to the family.

"If this could happen to my brother, it could hap­pen to anyone," she said.

Cramer had been sent to Saudi Arabia as part of a $750,000 arms deal, sent to show the Saudis that the weapons they had were not defec­tive, she said, and she thinks he was murdered because he overheard something he was not meant to hear.

An obituary recently published in the Tele­graph says "Chris was blunt, honest and truth­ful. That is why he was sent to Saudi Arabia. That is why he was killed."

Baden’s long high-pro­file career included tes­tifying at the OJ Simpson trial in 1995. More recent­ly he was hired by the family of Michael Brown in the Missouri police shooting.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or for U.S. Rep. Ann McLane