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Crime & Courts

What killed the computer hacker who turned in Chelsea Manning still a mystery


Exactly what killed the computer hacker who gave up Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to the FBI remains a mystery.

Forensic pathologists who performed Adrian Lamo’s autopsy were unable to determine how the 37-year-old died in March in Wichita. His autopsy report, released Wednesday afternoon, lists Lamo’s cause and manner of death as “undetermined.” That means that after a thorough examination of his body, results of toxicology testing and information about Lamo’s life and last hours, there is nothing that points to a specific reason he died.

“Despite a complete autopsy and supplemental testing, no definitive cause of death was identified,” Scott Kipper, deputy coroner and medical examiner at the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center, wrote in the report.

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The opinion section of the report notes that Lamo had a history of anxiety, depression, Asperger’s syndrome, and drug and alcohol abuse. He also suffered from a seizure disorder that could not be ruled out as a possible cause or contributing factor to his death, it says.

The report also notes that Lamo had creatinine levels consistent with kidney failure and higher than usual potassium levels, but the significance of those was unknown.

A toxicology screen showed several drugs used to treat seizures, anxiety and depression in his system — as well as a designer drug called flubromazepam. None were at concentrations likely to cause or contribute to his death, the report says.

It goes on to say that “the fatal ranges of some of these more esoteric drugs is not well studied” or described. However, the finding of such drugs at autopsy “suggest the possibility that other rare drugs not tested for (at autopsy) may have been used” or abused, the report says.

Lamo’s body tested negative for alcohol and a variety of other illicit, prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

“As the cause of death cannot be definitely determined, the manner of death is best classified as undetermined,” the report says.

Lamo was found dead in his apartment at 4925 E. Shadybrook in Wichita on March 14 — a week after he was last seen alive.

Since then what caused his death has been the subject of much speculation.

Police, in announcing Lamo’s death, said they didn’t think it was a result of foul play. Lamo had been living in Wichita for more than a year at the time of his death, a friend previously told The Eagle.

Lamo gained notoriety — and hate — for several of his exploits including hacks of The New York Times and Microsoft that got him convicted of computer fraud. Perhaps his most famous endeavor was exposing Manning as the person who gave a trove of classified government documents to WikiLeaks.

Examiners who performed Lamo’s autopsy found a sticker on his left thigh under this clothes that reads: “Adrian Lamo Project Vigilant Assistant Director Threat Analysis/Investigation 70 Bates Street Northwest, Washington DC 20001.”

Project Vigilant is a Florida-based semi-secret government contractor that claims it encouraged Lamo to disclose the source of the WikiLeaks leak.

Manning, a United States Army soldier who went by Bradley then, was convicted in connection with the leak in 2013. Her 35-year sentence was commuted by President Obama last year.

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