The family of a Chester County Marine who committed suicide is suing the U.S. in Philadelphia court, claiming military authorities returned his remains without the heart and then lied to his parents about it.
Sgt. Brian LaLoup, 21, at the time of his death in 2012, was stationed as an embassy security officer in Athens. After a party with colleagues, he shot himself in the head with a service weapon.
He was taken to a Greek hospital for an autopsy and his heart was removed.
Christos Failades, a spokesman for the Greek embassy in Washington, D.C., said U.S. authorities were informed by Greek authorities about this case.
“The autopsy was asked [for] by the Greek law and furthermore his heart was kept for … testing,” Failades said.
Aaron Freiwald, a lawyer for the LaLoup family, said U.S. authorities performed a second autopsy on the body and discovered the heart was missing.
“We also know the family was not told this and buried their son without having been told their son’s remains were not complete,” said Freiwald.
At LaLoup’s funeral, American officials informed the family the heart was missing. Months later, a heart was sent to them, but DNA testing showed it was not their son’s, Freiwald said.
“And so the grief and sadness over losing their son is then compounded with many layers of stress and anger and questioning over what happened because the authorities lied to them about the condition of their son,” said Freiwald.
The LaLoup family wants to know why their son’s body was left in Greek custody and what happened to his heart.
“They have been “asking anyone they can, anyone who knew their son, and anyone who might have information, anyone in a position of authority, and they’ve gotten no answers,” said Freiwald.
The family is suing the U.S. Department of Defense and the Navy. They may also take legal action against the Greek government.