An Air Force Reserve captain whose family believe she was sexually assaulted in Afghanistan killed herself using her handgun.
Jamie Brunette, from Tampa, Florida, was found dead on February 9 by Tampa police in the back of her locked sedan near her apartment.
It appears the 30-year-old killed herself with her Smith & Wesson .380 handgun, which she purchased about six months earlier according to police, reports the Tampa Tribune.
The news shocked her family as Brunette, who left active duty after 11 years last June and joined the Air Force Reserve, had not shown any signs of being suicidal and was in the middle of opening her new fitness business.
‘She had so much going for her,’ says Jackie Leverich, 40, Brunette’s oldest sister.
‘She was so full of hope and wonderment and passion and excitement for life.’
To the outside world Brunette appeared happy – the week before her death she was posting photos of her studio being built with the caption ‘Doing work today!’.
It was due to open in a few weeks time and Brunette was part owner/part instructor.
But Leverich says she believes something traumatic happened to her sister in Afghanistan, saying the family noticed a change in Brunette on her return at her sister’s wedding.
‘She seemed upbeat,’ says Leverich, ‘but she wasn’t really giving us a whole lot of detail about life and what was going on.’
Leverich says she suspects that her sister was sexually assaulted in Afghanistan – she does not have any proof, but believes there was an incident.
‘I suspect she was assaulted, and she didn’t feel comfortable reporting it for some reason and internalized the incident so she could finish her deployment, which she did with flying colors,’ says Leverich.
‘It’s not anything she told me, just from talking with all her friends this past week, and piecing those things together.
‘I am female active duty, 18 years in the Coast Guard. I am well aware of those issues, and that’s my gut feeling.’
The following year Brunette left active duty and opted for the Air Force Reserve.
Air Force Lt. Col Kurt Spranger, her business partner told the Tampa Tribune: ‘I do not know the detail, but unequivocally I can say, yes, something happened, something that should never happen to a human,’ says Spranger.
‘Something happened and it was why she wanted to get out. So she wouldn’t have to deploy again.’
He said Brunettte had split with her boyfriend two weeks before her death, but she did not give any signs of being outwardly unhappy and was professional at all times.
The Hillsborough County medical examiner’s initial report states that Brunette had a ‘long tobacco and alcohol abuse history’ and was suffering from depression and anxiety.
Her roommate said Brunette had confided in her that she was seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder from the VA and had been depressed.
The VA, citing privacy issues, could not comment.
A memorial page set up online has been inundated with comments.
One user wrote: ‘She was a wonderful, bright, positive, professional, Contingency Contracting Officer and Airmen. She was so young and so full of life and I feel great sadness from the squadron that loved her very much.’
Another user wrote: ‘I recently met Jamie at Orange Theory in Largo. I was so impressed while talking to her – articulate, respectful, courteous and interesting. She was full of life and excited about getting her business up and running.’
MailOnline has contacted the US Air Force for a comment.
To speak to a skilled, trained counselor, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1800 273 8255.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
11495 29355225 53
her path of destiny = 53 = Attacked (in Afghanistan).
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