CLEVELAND — In 2014, 22-year-old Cory Barron died after attending a country music concert at Progressive Field in Cleveland. At the time, it was believed he fell down a garbage chute at the venue, and his body was found in a landfill in Lorain County. His manner of death was undetermined, however officials at the time ruled that there was no foul play.
Now, eight years later, the Lorain County Coroner has changed the manner of death from undetermined to homicide. This after information from police indicated that others may have played a role in Barron's death.
Dr. Frank Miller, Lorain County Coroner, told 3News on the phone Tuesday that the manner of death was changed after he received information from the Cleveland Division of Police and had conversations with Sgt. Aaron Reese with the homicide unit.
That information, Dr. Miller said, indicated that Barron was involved in an altercation, and that he was put into the garbage chute.
The coroner also shared a statement with 3News:
"Since the death of Cory Barron in 2014, additional investigation has been conducted by private investigators and the Cleveland Division of Police. The Lorain County Coroner has been provided with information by the Cleveland Police that Cory Barron was involved in an altercation at Progressive Field prior to his disappearance and death. In light of the additional information, his death was due to the actions or failure to act of another person or persons. The manner of death for Cory Barron has been changed from undetermined to homicide.
"The cause of death for Cory Barron is unchanged and is sequelae of multiple blunt impacts to the head, trunk and extremities due to descent down a trash chute into an enclosed dumpster. The manner is homicide."
3News also spoke with Sgt. Reese, who said the Cleveland Division of Police homicide unit received a request from the Lorain County Coroner's office to conduct further investigations into Barron's death. He also said the Barron family had hired private investigators, who presented findings from their investigation to the coroner's office.
"We reviewed the investigative work that was done by the private investigators and then kind of piggybacked off of that and conducted more interviews and submitted some more scientific items to be tested for DNA, some more DNA testing," Sgt. Reese said. "And there's still more we're seeking to do."
Regarding the DNA testing, Sgt. Reese said that while testing was conducted at the time of the death, further testing is available today that was not then, and confirmed that some of that testing has helped unveil new information.
Sgt. Reese also confirmed that it is now believed Barron was involved in an altercation before his death, and that he did not go into the garbage chute voluntarily.
"Just based on eyewitness - people that we've interviewed, we know that there was some type of incident," Sgt. Reese said. "I would expect there to be multiple, more witnesses available based on what we've been told by other people."
Two months after Barron's death, then-Lorain County Coroner Dr. Steven Evans ruled that there was no foul play involved in the incident. The cause of death was ruled as multiple blunt force impact from the five-story fall down a Progressive Field trash chute, and death was immediate.
Evans added there was nothing to indicate Barron's fall was not accidental. Tests detected the presence of alcohol, but due to the condition of the body, Evans couldn't say how much. He said no other drugs were detected in Barron's system.
"I'm less than happy," Evans said at the time of his report's release. "We'll never know the circumstances of how he wound up in the trash chute. I wish I had that for the family."
Despite the coroner's report, the Barron family has never stopped looking for answers. In 2019, his family hired a detective, established a hotline, and offered $50,000 for information leading to an indictment in their son’s death.
“We believe that somebody hit him in the head, kicked him in the ribs, picked him up and dropped him down that chute,” said Dick Wrenn, the private investigator hired by the Barron family at the time.
3News did reach out to the Barron family, they declined an interview at this time.
Interviews are ongoing in the investigation. Sgt. Reese said police believe there are people out there who would have seen something happened that night eight years ago.
"There are people that we want to talk to that were there, that we have identified," Sgt. Reese said. "And there are other people who have yet to be identified that we need to come forward."
Both Sgt. Reese and Dr. Miller emphasized the dedication and persistence of the Barron family, who have been pushing for answers since the beginning.
"They deserve justice, Cory deserves justice," Sgt. Reese said. "They haven't given up the fight."
If you know anything about this incident, you are asked to call crime stoppers at 216.252.7463 or the Cleveland Police homicide unit at 216.623.5464.