On Nov. 10, 2012, Midlothian police officers and Midlothian Fire Department personnel responded to an unresponsive person call at 340 Kirk Road, Midlothian, Ellis County, Texas.
Upon arrival officers observed an unresponsive white male with distinct visible signs of rigor mortis. The unresponsive person was identified by the deceased’s grandmother, and by identifying information on scene, as 23-year old Christopher Todd Erick. At 4:45 p.m. Justice of the Peace Curtis Polk pronounced Christopher Erick deceased. Judge Polk requested an inquest to be performed at the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office, to determine the cause of death.
Officers did not observe any apparent signs of suicide, and all prescribed medications were accounted for. Officers did, however, locate on the scene a hand-written last will and testament and suicide note believed to have been written by the deceased. Subsequent handwriting analysis by the Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab confirmed that the documents were authored and signed by Christopher Erick.
Christopher Erick had resided in Midlothian with his paternal grandparents most of his life. They were able to provide officers with vital information during this investigation. On the scene the grandmother provided officers with medical records detailing Christopher’s diagnosed psychiatric condition, current prescribed medications, self-mutilation, and his long history of suicidal ideations and actual suicide attempts. In the last year of his life, Christopher’s condition took a turn for the worse, causing him to be hospitalized many times and subjecting him to the most aggressive forms of treatment.
Based on information provided by Kimberly Smith, who is the biological mother of Christopher Erick, the Midlothian Police Department requested a toxicology analysis from the medical examiner for cyanide.
On Jan. 25, 2013, the Dallas County Medical Examiners Office determined the cause of death for Christopher Erick was a lethal concentration of cyanide in the blood as well as anomalous coronary artery and aortic dissection. The manner of death was deemed undetermined (manner of ingestion). The Medical Examiner stated that Christopher Erick died from a fatal dose of cyanide. The Medical Examiner stated that the autopsy showed all internal organs were normal, with no signs of prolonged cyanide ingestion.
It was determined during the investigation, through records, credit card transactions, account history information, and emails, that Christopher Erick had purchased the cyanide through a popular internet retailer, receiving the shipment shortly before his death. Records also proved that Christopher had purchased cyanide on three previous occasions. He never received those prior orders because of the efforts of his grandmother, whom Christopher lived with. On each of those occasions she was able to either cancel the order or intercept the delivery of cyanide.
In response to multiple accusations and concerns raised by Kimberly Smith during this investigation, on April 12, 2013, the Midlothian Police Department requested a secondary review by the Texas Rangers. The Texas Rangers reviewed the case and agreed with the conclusion that Christopher Erick committed suicide.
Although two independent law enforcement agencies made findings of suicide, Kimberly Smith continued to make accusations that Christopher Erick was murdered by his family members. Investigative staff diligently followed-up on each point brought to their attention. In spite of her continued allegations that law enforcement failed to conduct a proper investigation and was involved in a conspiracy to conceal a crime, Ms. Smith refused to provide police with potential evidence in her possession, which she removed from the scene of Christopher’s death. She then refused to participate in any additional meetings with police.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of suicide in this case, investigative staff took the extraordinary step of consulting with the Ellis County & District Attorney’s office. That office reviewed all available information. Because of Kimberly Smith’s continued allegations of incompetence and misconduct by law enforcement the decision was made to present the matter of Christopher Erick’s death to the Ellis County Grand Jury, for an independent review of the facts and evidence.
On Aug. 6, 2014, Chief Carl Smith, Commander Cody McKinney and Sergeant Tim Scott presented the findings in this case before the Grand Jury. Kimberly Smith was also afforded the opportunity to present any findings or evidence before the Grand Jury to support her accusations against the Midlothian Police Department and her allegation of murder. She testified for three hours.
After hearing six hours of testimony, the Ellis County Grand Jury decided that there was no objective reason to believe that the death of Christopher Erick was anything other than self-inflicted. The Grand Jury also found no merit to support the allegation of murder.
The tragic death of Christopher Todd Erick on Nov. 10, 2012, has been investigated and reviewed by the Midlothian Police Department, the Texas Rangers, the Ellis County & District Attorney’s Office, and an Ellis County Grand Jury. The conclusion of all entities is that Christopher’s death was a suicide.
Extensive, detailed medical records were gathered in this investigation, which describe the mental health of Christopher Erick. Christopher’s family asserted their lawful right to privacy in not having medical records of a loved one released to the public domain. The City of Midlothian requested an opinion from the Texas Attorney General, to determine which, if any, documents may be released. On Oct. 20, the Attorney General delivered an opinion in reference to this case. There are 178 pages of documents which have been redacted and approved for release pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act.