Crime & Courts

Boeing Whistleblower: Suicide Report Released

John Barnett’s note: “Bury me face down so Boeing and their lying ass leaders can kiss my ass.”

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Despite a flood of legitimate and credible speculation to the contrary, it would appear as though former Boeing quality control manager-turned-whistleblower John Barnett killed himself after all.

That, or someone got incredibly creative forging a suicide note …

“Bury me face down so Boeing and their lying ass leaders can kiss my ass,” Barnett wrote in his note (.pdf), a copy of which was released by the Charleston Police Department (CPD) along with a report concluding the 62-year-old Louisiana native took his own life on or about March 9, 2024.

“Mr. Barnett sustained a fatal gunshot wound to his head at close range while inside his locked vehicle,” the report determined. “No evidence of forced entry was found and there were no signs of a physical struggle within the vehicle. The vehicle’s key fob was discovered in Mr. Barnett’s pants pocket.”

Barnett’s body was discovered inside his “Clemson orange” Dodge Ram pickup in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn located at 301 Savannah Highway – just across the Ashley River from the historic Holy City of Charleston, South Carolina. He was in Charleston to be deposed in connection with a whistleblower lawsuit.

According to police, the silver Smith and Wesson handgun Barnett used to do himself in “was found in (Barnett’s) right hand.”

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“Ballistic analysis verified that the fired cartridge casing and the bullet recovered at the scene had been fired from this specific firearm,” police noted. “Furthermore, the trajectory of the bullet aligns with the gunshot wound observed. Mr. Barnett legally purchased the gun in 2000.”

Additionally, detectives’ review of surveillance footage did not find any indication of foul play.

“Security footage from the hotel confirmed Mr. Barnett’s movements on the evening of March 8, 2024,” the report noted. “He entered the hotel alone at 7:26 p.m., proceeded to his room at 7:36 p.m., and was last seen exiting the hotel by himself at 8:37 p.m. Mr. Barnett’s vehicle was captured on video reversing into a parking space at 8:45 p.m., where it remained stationary until it was discovered by officers the following morning. Throughout the night, there was no video evidence of anyone interacting with the vehicle, entering it, or the vehicle leaving its parking spot.”

Detectives also noted Barnett’s cell phone data “indicated no unusual travel patterns or communications leading up to his death.”

“He was consistently located at his deposition site and his hotel,” the report noted. “Additionally, the key card access to his hotel room did not show any unusual entries.”

Barnett’s death exposed the failed culture of this crony capitalist aerospace giant – prompting its chief executive officer to step down less than three weeks later. The company’s stock price has also tanked, and just this week it was reported the company had once again ran afoul of federal investigators.

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RELATED | THE WHISTLEBLOWER AND THE CORPORATION

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According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Boeing violated the terms of its January 2021 settlement with the agency following the two fatal crashes involving its much-maligned 737 Max jet after two crashes left a combined 346 people dead. 

Barnett was outspoken about the extent to which Boeing’s corporate culture – and cover-up culture – was to blame for the crashes (and subsequent issues).

“Once you understand what’s happening inside of Boeing, you’ll see why we’re seeing these kinds of issues,” he told Nadia Daly of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “This is a Boeing issue, this is not a 737 issue.”

“Their culture is all about speed and production,” Barnett added. “Any issues, any concerns that you bring up are going to slow them down.”

Barnett’s note made clear he wanted his former employer to pay the price for its conduct.

“I pray Boeing pays!!!” Barnett added in his note. “I pray the motherf*ckers that destroyed by life pay!!!”

A postscript to the note took issue with current federal protection for whistleblowers, noting that “the entire system for whistleblower protection is f*cked up too!!”

Take a look …

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Suicide note of Boeing whistleblower John Barnett. (Charleston Police Department)

While the release of the note and related evidence certainly provided compelling evidence as to the fate which befell Barnett – at his own hands, it appears – there are still those who understandably double the official conclusion.

Just prior to his passing, in fact, Barnett reportedly told friends and family members not to accept the suicide narrative in the event any harm were to befall him.

“If anything happens to me, it’s not suicide,” Barnett allegedly told a family friend, according to an interview she gave with reporter Anne Emerson of WCIV TV-4 (ABC – Charleston, S.C.) shortly after his death.

This is a developing story … please check back for updates.

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THE REPORT …

(Charleston Police Department)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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1 comment

Melissa May 18, 2024 at 11:07 am

Thanks for your coverage on this. Just fyi there’s a typo in the article based on what’s in the actual note. “I pray the motherf*ckers that destroyed by life pay” should say “my life”.

I wonder if there was anything else going on in his life that contributed to him wanting to end everything, or if it really was solely due to the Boeing case. I understand people having depression and grief and can see how those things would lead them to end their own lives, but the Boeing case? I would probably have to see the surveillance video with my own eyes to believe Boeing didn’t have him killed.

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