Ray Anthony Neal, 61, was discovered dead on Saturday (July 20) by his sister Michelle Smalls. He was reportedly stabbed multiple times in the neck, which resulted in blood being splattered all over his bed, bathroom walls and shower curtain.
Gwinnett County Coroner Shannon Byers subsequently ruled his death to be from natural causes, claiming Neal’s arteries had burst and thus giving way to the bloody scene. Smalls questioned the ruling from the start.
“There’s no way,” Smalls told WSB-TV. “It was too much blood.”
Small’s suspicions were later confirmed when a funeral home employee, who was also a coroner in a neighboring county, discovered multiple stab wounds on Neal’s neck.
According to the Daily Mail, Byers later resigned over the inaccurate ruling and Eddie Reeves, Gwinnett County Coroner’s Office Chief Investigator, personally issued an apology to Neal’s family.
Arriving at a brick duplex on the outskirts of Lawrenceville, Ga., on Saturday evening, police found a grisly scene. Ray Anthony Neal was... https://t.co/BJiVaDamO8— Connie Amidei (@ConnieAmidei) July 25, 2019
On Monday, Gwinnett County Coroner's Office Chief Medical Examiner Carroll Terry conducted a full autopsy on Neal's body. She noticed suspicious injuries believed to be stab wounds and ruled cause of death a homicide.
Smalls, distraught with the oversight, told WXIA, “She shouldn't have a job,” referring to Byers. “I'm going after her job.”
Smalls and her family had reportedly began cleaning Byers’ home, potentially destroying valuable evidence, shortly after Byers' initial determination.
As for who the murderer was, the case is currently under investigation. Police believe the initial incorrect ruling will not hinder their search for Byers’ killer.
“We were aware of the situation prior to getting that final classification from the medical examiner's office,” Cpl. Michele Pihera told WFTV.