The brother of Aron Christensen, a hiker who died under suspicious circumstances in Lewis County, is calling on Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to reopen the investigation into Christensen’s death.
Corey Christensen and his attorney recently penned a letter urging officials to reopen the investigation. It’s a Hail Mary pass from family members who have felt frustrated by law enforcement’s actions in the killing. Last month, other family members signaled they intend to sue for $20 million.
Family members remain skeptical about what happened to the 49-year-old musician, who died last August while hiking on a trail south of Packwood, Washington, along with his 4-month-old puppy.
Both appear to have died from gunshot wounds, according to medical examinations. Despite those wounds, Lewis County declined to charge a 19-year-old in the area who admitted to firing a pistol and finding both dead.
Corey Christensen said he and other family members remain devastated. He argues the case should concern any person venturing outdoors.
“When our loved ones go hiking or camping to enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, we need to make sure they can return home safely,” he told OPB. “If that does not happen, we need to make sure that law enforcement acts with appropriate measures, skill and training to ensure that bad actors are held fully accountable.”
The letter written by Corey Christensen and his attorneys calls on the governors to order a new investigation helmed by the Washington Attorney General’s Office. In Washington, only an elected local prosecutor presiding over a case or the governor can refer it to the attorney general.
A spokesperson for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s office said on Tuesday that their legal and policy team needs time to review.
Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Brionna Aho, a spokesperson for the Washington Attorney General, said the office doesn’t comment on potential criminal referrals.
Among the concerns they believe warrant a new investigation, Corey Christensen and his attorney underscored how Lewis County Sheriff’s Office deputies first visited the scene and questioned whether they pressured medical professionals to downplay the death.
The responding deputy initially reported that Aron Christensen died from a stick puncturing his body. That deputy then diverted detectives who had been on their way to the scene, according to investigative documents. The wooded area where Christensen died was never treated as a crime scene.
A detective later told the Christensen family that the 19-year-old who shot the gun, Ethan Asbach, was a “good kid with a good family,” according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.
In the letter, Corey Christensen and his attorney also write that the medical examiner who performed Aron Christensen’s autopsy reported that she felt pressured to spin a “narrative” that Aron Christensen died from a heart attack.