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Family seeks ouster of county coroner
GEORGETOWN, Ohio (Angenette Levy) -- A Brown County couple launches an effort to remove the coroner from office amid questions surrounding how she handled the investigation into their son's death.
Steve and Rebecca Adamson were the first to sign a petition seeking Dr. Judith Varnau's removal from office. Their son Zachary Adamson died from a gunshot wound to the head in January.
"We want somebody else to handle our son's death. We don't want her to be a part of this anymore," Steve Adamson said.
On January 9th, Zachary's roommate called 911 at 8:30 p.m. to report he had taken his own life. The roommate was home at the time, according to a preliminary autopsy report. His mother said she had spoken to him that evening and he seemed fine.
"He was coming home from work at 7:12 and was telling me that it was snowing on the phone and I kind of laughed about it because I just left the office and it wasn't and he was fine at 7:12," Rebecca Adamson said.
Rebecca Adamson said she received a phone call from the roommate at 9:02 p.m. telling her Zachary had committed suicide. But, her family questions whether that happened.
"I feel they can't answer the questions because there was no investigation done the night of the deaththe scene was left unlocked," Rebecca said.
Steve Adamson added, "The things that we saw were very disturbing."
The Adamsons said Dr. Varnau did not notify them of their son's death or turn over the firearm that killed him to the Brown Co. Sheriff's Office as she was required to do by state statute. They said she turned the gun over to Adamson's roommate. Dr. Varnau called upon the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to investigate Adamson's death. There's been tension between Dr. Varnau and the Brown Co. Sheriff since she took office. Some have called it a feud.
Zachary Adamson was an Army Ranger who completed four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the time of his death he was receiving treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A preliminary autopsy report indicates Adamson likely committed suicide. But, his parents say they'll never know for sure since the investigation was so shoddy.
Dr. Varnau declined Local 12's request for an on camera interview. But she said she has no feud with the Brown Co. Sheriff's Office. She said the Sheriff's Office has a feud with her.
She said, "I know there's been lots of allegations and what I'm trying to do is not throw mud like other people are throwing mud and waiting for the truth to come out. Because I think when the truth comes out everybody will be very pleased with the fact that I'm continuing to do my job as I am."
Tracy Hawkins, the Adamson's attorney, said she needs to collect at least 2,000 signatures for the petitions. She plans to submit them with a complaint on Monday. She wants a judge to either order Dr. Varnau removed from office or a recall election to be held.
"There's a pattern that's developing or appears to be developing and we want it to stop. The Adamson family feels this needs to stop and this needs to stop now before. What if somebody dies tonight? What is that family going through," Hawkins said.
Signatures will be collected Saturday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. at a storefront on Grant St. It is on the north side of the Brown Co. Courthouse in Georgetown. Signatures will also be collected Sunday if needed.
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