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 firstname.lastname@example.org. for U.S. Rep. Ann McLane