Energy

Police Probe: Energy Tycoon’s Mysterious Death May Not Be Suicide

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Natural gas pioneer Aubrey McClendon’s March death in a fiery car wreck may not have been the result of suicide, an investigation revealed Wednesday.

“We were unable to find any evidence or information that would lead us to believe it was anything other than a vehicular accident,” Oklahoma City Police spokesman Capt. Paco Balderrama, told reporters, referring to the two-month investigation his department conducted.

Details of the investigation have not been made public, but reports indicate the probe was unable to determine the manner in which McClendon died — that said, the probe is unlikely to put to bed the mysterious circumstances surrounding the former CEO of Chesapeake Energy.

Investigators didn’t uncover anything at the crash site or in interviews with McClendon’s friends and associates that lead them to believe he was seeking to commit suicide. Initial reports show that McClendon was speeding well above the posted speed limit before careening off the highway for 189 feet before slamming into a highway partition March 2.

McClendon allegedly tapped his vehicle’s brakes twice while barreling down a highway in Oklahoma at breakneck speed before crashing into a wall, which adds an additional component of intrigue to the story.

It is not yet clear whether the probe will have any impact on an Oklahoma City court case involving creditors clamoring for pieces of McClendon’s wealth.

The oil tycoon — who was well known as a high-spending, man-about-town — was indicted on charges of conspiracy to rig oil prices in Oklahoma prior to his death. The indictment alleged McClendon colluded with another oil company to stifle oil and gas prices from 2007 to 2012 as a means of keeping competitors out of the market.

The former oil CEO was facing a decade in prison and a $1 million fine had the court found him in violation of the Sherman Act, a federal antitrust statute.

“We may never know one-hundred percent what happened,” Capt. Balderrama said.

Investigators sifted through emails as well as other forms of communications to look for any evidence of suicide, but came up empty.

Some of McClendon’s friends told the Wall Street Journal in interviews they didn’t see any signs he was intent on killing himself, and believe McClendon simply lost control of his vehicle in a dangerous stretch of road. He had a heavy foot and was known for speeding, rarely wore a seat belt and boasted of sending texts and emails while driving, according to his friends.

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