Boeing whistleblower John Barnett died by suicide, police investigation concludes

An extensive law enforcement investigation has determined the cause of Boeing whistleblower John Barnett’s death was suicide, according to documents released Friday by the Charleston Police Department.

Barnett had been in Charleston, South Carolina, giving testimony in his whistleblower case against the embattled aerospace company, when on March 9 he was found dead from a gunshot wound in his car in the parking lot of his hotel. He was 62.

An initial investigation by the county coroner had concluded Barnett’s death was an “apparent” suicide, but police said they would continue to investigate after requests from Barnett’s family and attorneys. Barnett’s death fueled speculation on social media that foul play may have been involved. 

Documents released Friday by police indicate officials have accepted suicide as Barnett’s cause of death. Investigators closed the case after receiving a ballistics report stating the bullet had been “fired by the firearm located in the victim’s hand” and a completed autopsy from the coroner’s office confirming Barnett died by suicide. 

Investigators also detailed the contents of a notebook with Barnett’s fingerprints found next to him in the car passenger seat which, according to the police, contained “what amounts to a suicide note.”  A copy of the note was released, in which Barnett told his family and friends he loved them, and wrote “I can’t do this any longer” and “I pray Boeing pays.

“We remain acutely aware of the sensitivity and public interest surrounding this case,” said a Charleston police spokesperson in a statement. “It is important to emphasize that our investigation was guided strictly by facts and evidence while remaining undisturbed by conjecture and external pressures.”

An attorney for Barnett and his family did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Barnett’s mother, Vicky Stokes, told CBS News in April she holds the aircraft manufacturing giant responsible for the grinding treatment that ultimately left her son despondent.  

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, you can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. You can also chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline here.

For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email

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