On May 30, 2004, Colorado resident Nancy Mason, 47, died while fishing near Salida, Colo. Initially, officials believed she fell from a 10-foot cliff into a rushing creek, and the death was ruled an accident. But five years later, investigators believe it was a homicide, and have named her husband, Dan Mason, as a suspect. Read Dan Mason's response, which he e-mailed to Dateline NBC, here.
My Story: Harassed From Colorado to Texas
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Have the events in the past five years following my wife’s tragic accidental death been due to overzealous attempts at justice? Would it be far-fetched to imagine a conspiracy to ruin the lives and reputations of innocent men? Sometimes it is difficult to know the difference.
My wife died in a tragic accident five years ago. That same incident also placed me in the hospital for more than 13 hours. Upon arrival at the hospital, the emergency room physician and other medical staff considered my condition “to be ranked in a high health risk classification.” After I regained consciousness, I remember my nurse saying, “Mr. Mason, we thought we might lose you. Your vital signs have been unstable and you were placed in critical risk of heart failure classification.” I was in a coma for most of my time there, and, when I awoke, I was attached to heart monitoring equipment, an IV, and an oxygen mask. My wet clothing had been removed and there were heating pads and piles of blankets covering all but my face.
But the physical after-effects were nothing compared to the emotional devastation brought by the loss of my wife. That grief and depression intensified with rumors and innuendos that I might have been criminally responsible for her death. My life in the past five years has included a series of harassments that have destroyed my personal and professional life.
Initially, the coroner’s office concluded that this tragedy was an accident. Several weeks after the accident, I received the coroner’s report from Randy Amettis, which was filled with page after page of medical terms and statements such as: “Death Due To Accident” and went on to explain the bodily damage resulting from the fall.
The emotions of my late wife’s family grew in grief, and the need to blame someone became overwhelming. So when a long-time, wealthy, personal adversary became involved, the accusations began to fly and a private investigation was financed. While not successful in providing proof of any misdeeds, this privately-funded investigation did manage to produce large quantities of suspicion, propaganda, and political pressure. Two different Colorado District Attorneys from 11th Judicial District have instructed authorities that “there was and is insufficient admissible evidence to proceed with a criminal prosecution”. Nevertheless, local authorities have continually ignored their advice and have continued to harass me for more than five years.
The following list includes examples of the continued harassment to which Mr. Gallegos and I have been subjected over the past five years:
1. Nancy Mason’s death was deemed an accident until many months later, when, without any evidence or cause, the sheriff’s department and others labeled me a murderer. (Not just a suspect, “a murderer.”) To this date, a privately funded investigation has never turned up one fragment of evidence or motive to support these allegations.
2. Regarding this accident, I have been asked and have answered the same questions, over and over again. In fact, while in the hospital I was asked at least eight times to repeat what had happened. Nothing in my accounting for the factual events has changed.
3. Eight months after the accident, we were asked to once again to give an accounting and we even voluntarily went to the Denver Police Department and answered the same questions again. As always, neither of us changed our description of what had happened. It remains simple. We only need tell the truth.
4. Since my wife’s accidental death, this Colorado Sheriff’s Department has changed their description of their “assumed reenactment” several times. Every image of their manufactured stories with their many alterations has been delivered publicly without evidence or responsible motive.
5. My home was searched “without cause.” The coroner’s report I received was illegally taken from my home by the sheriff's department during this unconstitutional search. During the more than four-hour search, which included a drug dog and a large forensic kit, nothing incriminating was found. What was the drug dog for? Nothing incriminating was found, because there was not a crime committed.
6. On several occasions, I received the intimidating phone calls from the sheriff's department. In four of the calls, Tim Walker (Sheriff of Chaffee County) told me that my belated wife’s Nissan Path Finder had been confiscated and sent to a lab to uncover criminal evidence. After their lab testing was completed, that was the end of this subject because, once again, no evidence was recovered.
7. I was denied the second portion of a life insurance benefit, because this Colorado Sheriff’s Department told the insurance company I had murdered my wife. Without a trial, a hearing, an arrest or even any hard evidence, they told people I was a murderer. I may not have been convicted in the courts but I was convicted in their minds. As a result, they pressed this unsubstantiated “verdict” on all who would listen.
8. The sheriff’s department has come to our places of employment and told employers we are murderers. They have visited my doctor making the same allegations and gone to the homes of neighbors chanting the same. If a private citizen had done these things, I might have some legal recourse for slander, harassment and stalking. But, when our public officials who are sworn to protect our rights do these same things, what recourse does the average U.S. citizen have?
9. Three computers used for running my businesses were removed by the Sheriff’s department and not returned. The hard drives were scanned and investigated for evidence. Of course, no evidence was found, because no crime was committed. The Sheriff’s office did, however, falsely report to a local newspaper that someone had used a search engine from one of the computers to search “How to make a bomb.” When this false allegation did not make enough of a negative impact, the allegation of search engine usage was changed to “How to kill a person”.
10. Friends and family have received phone calls and been told, “This man is very dangerous and you should never be alone with him.” “He is a murderer and you,” they would tell the person, “will be the next victim.” I have been convicted of nothing in the courts, but they persist in trying to convict me in the hearts and minds of everyone who knows me. What happened to my constitutional rights?
11. I have been followed to Texas, where the Sheriff’s Department from Colorado has talked to my Texas employers. Their talks have resulted in loss of employment and loss of income that is essential for existence.
12. When leaving Colorado and going to Atlanta, Georgia, articles were placed in numerous newspapers to the effect that I had “fled from justice; was now running from the law.” These slanderous claims however, failed to mention three key facts:
A. I left Colorado in a 17-foot Ryder truck, which was rented in my name.
B. The 17-foot truck was pulling a tow-trolley with a car riding on top of the trolley.
C. The Sheriff’s Department was well aware of the fact, but failed to mention that there were thirteen other people who had made the same business investment and also relocated to Atlanta GA.
13. The same situation occurred again when our business in Atlanta failed and many of these thirteen individuals cut their investment losses and went elsewhere for work. It was put forth in public newspapers that I was on the run again. No mention was made of the other independent business people.
14. A detective from the sheriff’s department broke the hood ornament off of both of my vehicles. In place of the ornaments, a detective’s business card was wedged with the written words, “Catch you later, Dan”. If a private citizen had done this, they might have been charged with destruction of property or vandalism at the least. A police official apparently considers himself immune from such consequences.
15. Later, when I temporarily relocated to West Texas, my name was smeared publicly again with reference to “running away.” This time they failed to mention that my mother was elderly and dying. I went to care for her in her last days.
16. Upon relocating to Dallas, Texas, my name was smeared publicly once again. They announced I was “running away again. They failed to announce that, due to an accident, I had just undergone an arm and shoulder reconstruction and had at least five more surgical procedures facing me. All surgeries were preformed in Dallas over the past three years.
17. On two occasions this Colorado Department offered Mr. Gallegos $25.000 [sic] cash to make up a story tying me to murder. The detective said, “We do not care if Mason committed a crime or not, he is going down for it!”
18. On April 10, 2009, a coroner's subpoena was presented to Mr. Gallegos in Dallas, Texas, which required him to appear in Chaffee County on the day of May 29, 2009. Mr. Gallegos contacted the Colorado, Law Office of Matthew Martin. Mr. Martin later sent Mr. Gallegos a letter stating that he had spoken with the Coroner (Mr. Randy Amettis). In this letter, Mr. Amettis was quoted as saying; “Mr. Gallegos does not have to appear”.
Although Mr. Gallegos was told he did not need to appear, he was later arrested and extradited to Colorado. Mr. Gallegos spent seven days in Dallas County Jail and another four in Chaffee County Jail.
Mr. Gallegos was in proceedings for about three hours when the Honorable Judge William Alderton dismissed him and scolded those involved in putting Mr. Gallegos in this position. The D.A., Tom LeDoux, explained that the warrant that caused Mr. Gallegos to be arrested and extradited was not official and did not come from his office.
I am an innocent american citizen who is being bullied and harassed by certain members of the Colorado legal system. As stated by two separate district attorneys, “There is no real evidence to indicate the incident was anything more than an accident.” Almost everything you will find or read about this incident has been being fabricated by this Colorado Sheriff’s Department over the past five years.
Over and over again, false information has been leaked to the media. It seems that I have not only been accused but also already convicted. Despite the fact that no charges have ever been filed, these tactics have ensured that two men accused of a very serious crime can never get a fair trial or even live a normal life without the stigma of “murderer.”
If they can do this to me, do you really believe something similar could not happen to you or someone you love? This goes beyond merely ignoring the “presumption of innocence” required in due process. This became a determined pursuit to deprive me of my life, liberty and freedom without due process, whether through the legal system or not. They have sabotaged my reputation, my employment, and my relationships. How many friends would stand by you if officials kept telling them you were a murderer?
What happened to civil liberties? What happened to constitutional rights? What happened to due process? What happened?