‘It’s Not Suicide’: Boeing Whistleblower Warned Friend Before Death


John Barnett, 62, was in the process of testifying against the Boeing Company regarding the aircraft manufacturer’s manufacturing processes when he was found dead in South Carolina with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Now, though, a family friend of Barnett’s says that, before he died, he warned her that if he were found dead, it would not be the result of a suicide.

Jennifer, who did not share her surname, spoke to local ABC news affiliate WPDE about a concerning conversation she says she had with Barnett. She alleges that Barnett came by to visit her when she needed help, and they began to speak about his upcoming deposition in Charleston, South Carolina.

“He wasn’t concerned about safety because I asked him,” Jennifer told WPDE. “I said, ‘Aren’t you scared?’ And he said, ‘No, I ain’t scared, but if anything happens to me, it’s not suicide.’”

Barnett was staying in a Holiday Inn in Charleston ahead of his deposition; when his lawyers were unable to contact Barnett, they called in a wellness check, according to police reports obtained by the New York Post. A hotel staff member found Barnett’s body in his pickup truck; he was holding a silver pistol in his hand and appeared to have died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Jennifer told WPDE that she knows “he did not commit suicide. There’s no way. He loved life too much. He loved his family too much. He loved his brothers too much to put them through what they’re going through right now.” She believes that someone wanted to silence Barnett.

Of course, there is no way to verify Jennifer’s specific claims; Newsweek reached out to several sources without luck. However, Barnett’s lawyers — Robert Turkewitz and Brian Knowles — shared that “no one can believe” he was suicidal. He was in “good spirits” and shared no indication that he would take his life; in fact, he seemed eager to put this chapter of his life behind him.

It is worth noting that many suicides can seem to have come “out of the blue,” despite someone’s otherwise good spirits. Barnett’s role in such a high-profile case, however, has raised concerns of foul play, and Barnett’s family has requested that police investigations reflect those concerns.

Boeing has been embroiled in scandal as its aircraft seem to be malfunctioning on a regular basis. A deep investigation into the company’s safety and manufacturing processes stemmed from flight that saw a Boeing 737 Max 9 lose an entire door plug while in the air in January. Since that door incident, Boeing’s planes have gushed fluid, taken sudden nose dives, and lost a wheel. A Federal Aviation Administration audit found that Dawn dish soap was used as a lubricant in the manufacturing process, and that mechanics checked door seals with a hotel key card. Unfortunately, investigations have been hampered by a Boeing policy that sees its security camera footage automatically deleted after 30 days.

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