Photos: Dammion Heard's family suspects foul play in wrestler's apparent suicide
Big photos, videos below.
Dammion Heard, twenty, was a championship wrestler from Texas who continued to take part in the sport as a student at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison. But on March 30, he apparently committed suicide by hanging.
The key word in the previous sentence is "apparently." Heard's parents are certain Dammion didn't take his own life, and they've created a website offering a reward for more information about his death, which has made news in Colorado and beyond.
This photo and the one above are featured on Dammion Heard's Facebook page.
The Denver Post is only the latest major news organization to examine the circumstances of Dammion's death. Earlier this month, for instance, the story was featured on Good Morning America; we've got that video below.
Dammion's body was found hanging from a tree near U.S. Highway 50 outside Gunnison, and an autopsy found he'd died of strangulation. Moreover, authorities put out a press release stating that while the investigation into the death was ongoing, no other suspects were being pursued.
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However, Dammion's father Gary, who lives in Texas, holds fast to the belief that Dammion wasn't suicidal -- a contention he supports with assorted anecdotes
Gary tells the Post that Dammion had chatted with him about a hike planned for the next day, as well as his ongoing rehabilitation of an injured knee; he was a scholarship wrestler at Western State. He'd also talked with a friend about sharing an off-campus apartment the next semester.
But that was before he attended a party during which he's said to have gotten into "several altercations" spurred by his belief that others at the gathering had badly mistreated a young woman he knew.
Was foul play involved? A website created by the Heard family makes that argument.
A banner from the website created by Dammion Heard's family.
Text on the site's home page states:
Dammion's family is offering a $25,600 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Dammion Heard.
For more information, click here.
Dammion was born in New Kensington PA in late November of 1993, he and his parents moved back to Texas when Dammion was just a few months old. They settled in the town of Azle where his parents originally lived. Dammion started wrestling for a local youth team when he was four ½ years old. He took to it like a fish in water and got the attention of all the coaches almost immediately. His father also noticing his natural abilities on the mat, immediately started learning the sport so that he could work extra with Dammion at home. Dammion started competition that season and did very well. Dammion won his first of many youth State Titles at the Rookie State Championships in Amarillo TX. His taste of success and love of the sport started Dammion down the path of greatness. Dammion and his father started a select youth team after being in the sport about 5 years. Putting together a group of boys that showed their passion, drive and extreme talent for the sport, Texas Select Wrestling was born. The team traveled the United States wrestling the best competition they could find. Dammion along with the Texas Select Team trained with another elite team coached by Olympic Gold Medalist Kenny Monday. The Texas Select team and Kenny Mondays team (Team Monday) often came to one another workout facility to train with each other in preparation for a big tournament.
Dammion earned 5 individual State titles as a youth wrestler and placed in the top 4 at every State Championship. Dammion earned many youth National Championships over his youth career and placed at many more. He was a fierce competitor at the highest level of youth wrestling in the country and at one point was ranked #1 in the Nation. He had many significant wins on the youth National level but the one he was most proud of was his Cliff Keen National Championship in Tulsa Oklahoma. It is the toughest youth National Championship in the world and that particular year his bracket was stacked with all the top names at that weight in the country. He knew going into the tournament that it would be the toughest one he had ever wrestled. His focus, skill and determination would push him through the Championship and earn him the victory. As a freshman in high school he entered the United States Junior Open Championship in Oklahoma City OK. A complete underdog as a small freshman among some very experienced and accomplished high school wrestlers, Dammion took control of the tournament and made it to the finals. Dammion was down by one point with only 20 seconds to go when he got a reversal and won the match earning the coveted USJOC Ring and Gold Medal in the 103lb division.
Going into his freshman year of High School Dammion was a little undersized but was able to overcome that with his incredible speed, talent and determination. Making the Varsity team right away and having a great run through the season Dammion earned a birth into Regional's. Dammion fell just short of qualifying for the State Championship Tournament. The placers in his region would later fill four of the podium spots at the State Meet. After Dammion completed his freshman year in high school his parents bought a home in Fort Worth and Dammion transferred to Keller Fossil Ridge High School. Entering the wrestling program, Dammion was the outsider looking to fit in. It only took one practice with the new Ridge team for them to realize his talent, work ethic and never give up attitude. He quickly became close friends with his new team and the stage was set for a three year run of excellence both on and off the mat. As a sophomore Dammion only suffer two close losses....
He would make it to the State Championship Finals and face that same fo he had lost to twice in the season, a wrestler he had went back and forth with splitting wins since their youth days. Dammion wrestled a great match and his opponent as well, just coming up short on a reversal late in the third period he earned the runner up spot on the podium next to his opponent , his fo and career long friend. Dammion never getting down or losing confidence in himself or his abilities, he pushed hard through the summer and entered his Junior year more determined than ever to get a State Title. He was remarkable through the season beating all in his path. He eventually ended up in the State Finals on an undefeated season. Facing a very accomplished Senior that he had watched wrested his whole career. Dammion could not get it going his way and suffer yet another painful loss in the finals earning the runner up spot one more time. Again Dammion used that loss as motivation to work harder and become stronger through the off season. Dammion surrounded himself with some of the best talented wrestlers and coaches in the state. He trained everyday like the next chance of a state title was the next day. He woke at 5am, five days a week to run six to eight miles. Then a lifting or agility workout and two wrestling sessions four days a week. All this while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Dammion more than proved to himself and everyone else that he was not going to be denied his title.
A Facebook photo of Dammion Heard in action.
Dammion would one more time have an undefeated season and find himself in the State Finals. Dammion exploded into the match and never looked back. His devotion, sacrifice and hard work paid off as he clinched the Title that eluded him for three years. The look on his face was all that was needed to see the satisfaction and relief that all that hard work paid off. He was on top of the world at that moment and so he should have been. He was recruited by Western State University in Colorado. Wasting no time Dammion moved to Colorado the day after graduation to start training in the altitude. He wanted to get use to the altitude and be in the best shape possible for a chance at winning the starting varsity spot at 125lbs. His efforts would not be in vane as he in fact won the starting position at his weight. Dammion went on to compete as a true freshman and held a 50/50 record before getting a slight LCL sprain to his knee while wrestling the final home dual of the season. Even though the injury was minor Dammion was not going to risk further injury and opted to rehab the knee and begin training for the next season. Unfortunately that season would never come for Dammion. His life was taken after several altercations at a house party in late march of 2014. His body was found just a few miles away from that location almost four days later. The police are still investigating the mysterious disappearance and death of Championship Wrestler Dammion Heard. The family and friends are working hard to bring justice to Dammion and allow his voice to #BEHEARD!!!
RIP Dammion Heard 1993-2014
Below is a tribute video to Dammion, followed by the aforementioned Good Morning America report and a clip of him wrestling in his home state of Texas.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our News archive circa December 2013: "Suicide by freezing prevented by CU student's roommate, rescue crew at Chautauqua."