Death of Quincy soldier in Afghanistan ruled a suicide, family says


The family of Ciara Durkin, a 30-year-old National Guard corporal who died in mysterious circumstances last fall in Afghanistan, says they have been told that the Army has ruled her death a suicide.

"The Durkin family has received the Army's final report into Ciara's death with their conclusion that she took her own life. We are very upset and saddened by their conclusion," the family said in a statement on their web site.

"We have borne an extraordinary amount of pain over the past nine months, compounded by a protracted and at times ambiguous investigation. We now need time and privacy to grieve, and let our Ciara finally rest in peace. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam."

The Gaelic expression means, "May her noble soul be at the right hand of God." 

Three months before she was found dead with a single gunshot wound to the head, Durkin wrote to a friend that another soldier had pointed a 9mm handgun at her.

Durkin, who was stationed at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, wrote that the soldier had been jailed and asked her friend not to tell others about the incident, Durkin family spokesman Douglas Bailey confirmed.

“That remains another thing to be tracked down,” Bailey said Sunday, referring to the military investigation of Durkin’s death. Her body was found Sept. 28 near a church on the base, her M-16 rifle nearby. The death was initially reported as combat-related but Durkin’s family back in Quincy immediately suspected something else, since during her last visit home in September, she talked about “making enemies” because of things she learned working in a finance unit on the base.

The military has since called the death a non-combat fatality.

Bailey confirmed that there are “third-hand” reports that Durkin was shot in the mouth, indicating suicide. “Someone in the military may have told a family member who told another family member” that the fatal gunshot was in the mouth, he said.

But family members have discounted the suicide theory, saying Durkin had plans for the future and appeared happy during her visit home.

The military is investigating the death but has released no information including whether there is any connection between it and Durkin’s report about having a gun pointed at her in June.

Durkin, 30, was promoted to corporal after her death.

The Durkin family hopes to hear “any day now” about the military’s autopsy results, Bailey said. “The autopsy won’t be the end of the investigation,” he added. “There are a lot of leads that still need to be followed up on, more people to be interviewed.”

The results of a separate autopsy are expected soon, Bailey said.

Meanwhile, the Durkin family is anxious for the investigation to move forward, he said. “They don’t expect closure soon but would like to start getting some better information. It could still take a year or more for the military to conclude more about the cause of death and the final report could reach no finding,” he said.

Durkin enlisted in the Army National Guard in 2005 and was assigned to the 726th Finance Batallion based in West Newton. She was deployed to Afghanistan in February.

Jennifer Mann may be reached at