COBB COUNTY, Ga. – The autopsy report for U.S. Army veteran, Chase Massner, whose remains were found in August, was released, indicating the presence of heroin, but no trauma.
The Cobb County Medical Examiner’s office released Massner’s autopsy Monday afternoon and revealed both the toxicology report for his muscle tissue, as well as his skeletal conditions as found.
Incorporating those factors, however, the forensic investigator on his case, Dr. Cassie Boggs, could not determine with absolute certainty the cause or manner of death, documenting her conclusion for both as “undetermined.”
Massner went missing in March 2014, from his friend, Brad Clement’s house in Kennesaw, Ga. The Cobb County Police Department recovered his remains from that Farmbrook Trail location on Aug. 1, 2017.
He was found underneath the deck of the residence, beneath poured concrete.
He was found enveloped in a black tarp, and secured with several layers of duct tape. He had strips of clear packaging tape wrapped around his chest and legs.
He was dressed in a red hoodie with the “QT” logo, over a striped Old Navy shirt, with a Nike Pro Combat shirt, khaki pants, two mismatched socks with peace signs, and a spandex and nylon tattoo sleeve.
Boggs reported in the autopsy that Massner had the following substances found in his muscle tissue:
- Beta-phenethylamine: A chemical produced during decomposition
- Nicotine and cotinine- Indicate a consumption of tobacco products
- Lamotrigine- A medication he was prescribed. It is commonly prescribed for epileptic seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), epilepsy and bipolar disorder. Doctors seriously warn against consuming alcohol with the drug.
- Morphine and methamphetamine- Considered, according to the autopsy, as “drugs of abuse.” Morphine is the primary metabolite in heroin.
“Mr. Massner had a known history of heroin abuse,” the autopsy report stated.
However, the presence of morphine and methamphetamine in the muscle tissue does not indicate, Boggs said in the report, a definitive association with the drug as the presence of these drugs in muscle does not prove that they were present in the blood at the time of death.”
The amount of drugs taken cannot be determined, nor can the timeframe of when it was ingested. Therefore, determining if it was a lethal dose is impossible.
“Whether an overdose of drugs was a factor in the death of Chase Massner cannot be determined.”
His widow, Amanda Massner told 11Alive in a 2014 interview, that her husband had struggled returning to civilian life after serving a year in Iraq and returned in 2011. She said that her husband had been through some tough times since returning from his tour in the Middle East.
"Since he got back, he's had ups and downs with struggling with his mental stability," Amanda said.
Amanda said Chase had reached a low point late the week that he went missing and went away to visit Clement, "to get some space."
The report also showed that one of Massner’s nasal bones was found fractured and categorized as a post-mortem wound, or occurring after he died. Furthermore, there was no premortem trauma found, nor lethal trauma to the assessable soft tissues or skeletal remains—concluding that endured no traumabefore he died.
“Due to the state of decomposition of the remains, a definitive cause of death cannot be determined.”
However, that determination isn’t the absolute last word on his death.
“Should additional information become available, the conclusions pertaining to the cause and manner of death may be changed,” Boggs stated in the report.
It’s unclear what the new developments in his case might mean for Clement, who was arrested and charged with concealing his death and is currently behind bars awaiting his probable cause and bond hearing on Oct. 5.
“We are aware of the CCME findings. We are waiting for a full and complete file from all involved agencies for a comprehensive review. We cannot comment on the evidence at this time,” Cobb County District Attorney investigator, Kim Isaza, said.