What started out as a regular day for the family of Christian Andreacchio in February of 2014, quickly turned into a tragedy that sparked a years-long search for answers about his mysterious death. New developments in the investigation regarding the young man’s death mean that the case could be far from over, as “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant reports in “The Suspicious Death of Christian Andreacchio,” airing Saturday, January 9 at 10/9c on CBS.
Christian Andreacchio was just 21 years old when police say his live-in girlfriend Whitley Goodman and his friend Dylan Swearingen on Feb. 26, 2014 found him in the bathroom of his apartment in Meridian, Mississippi.
Swearingen told police Andreacchio was acting erratically before he died. According to a police report, Swearingen said Andreacchio threatened to shoot himself, telling Goodman to tell him that she loved him, before Swearingen intervened and took the gun from him.
Christian’s mother Rae Andreacchio described her son as a hard worker who was on the verge of becoming one of the youngest towboat captains on the Mississippi and facing a long, successful career.
Investigators initially ruled his death a suicide, and it is a ruling that stands to this day. “At this point, there has been further investigation by multiple agencies … that have determined it to be a suicide,” says Lauderdale County District Attorney Kassie Coleman, who was not part of the case at the time of the death.
However, his family did not believe he would take his own life. “I believe 100% he was murdered,” says Andreacchio’s mother, Rae.
The Andreacchio family hired a team of their own investigators to look at the evidence and they came up with a different conclusion — murder. Forensic pathologist Dr. Jonathan Arden believes the way Andreacchio was found – leaning over a bathtub, with little blood spatter – didn’t make sense. Arden believes Andreacchio’s body was moved after he was killed.
“None of this lines up for him to have shot himself in the position where he was found,” says Arden. “It’s a staged scene.”
A grand jury heard the case in 2017 and did not indict Goodman and Swearingen. They each declined to be interviewed, but their mothers say they are innocent.
“Did your son, Dylan, shoot Christian?” Peter Van Sant asked Dylan’s mother, Pam Swearingen.
“Absolutely not. On a very bad day, my son lost his best friend,” she said.
Goodman’s mother, Christie Chatterton, said, “I just want them to know that she did not kill him.”
Now, Goodman has broken her silence with a cryptic poem read to “48 Hours.” Goodman appeared when a “48 Hours” camera crew arrived to film video of her and her mother on a muggy August afternoon last year. That’s when, unexpectedly, Goodman pulled out a poem she wrote about Christian’s death. Correspondent Peter Van Sant was not present at the filming and Goodman would not take questions, but said of the poem, “It just came to me, like, out of nowhere.”
Goodman said, reciting verses that she says reflect her life after Andreacchio’s death, “I miss who I was, the person I once was allowed to be, before the anxiety, the pain and the notoriety.”
In Goodman’s own words, she seems to be saying she is the victim, writing, “Oh, it has been such a war… I guess it’s me who we should hate. I’ll be everyone’s escape.”
After reading the poem, Goodman, whom the Andreacchio family says has not answered key questions about her involvement in Christian’s death, said, “I was so confused whenever I started being blamed. I really was.”
In the years since Christian’s death, Goodman has struggled to hold a job and changed her appearance to avoid the glare of social media, according to her mother.
And now, “48 Hours” has learned, the case involving Christian Andreacchio’s death may not be over. In reporting the story, Peter Van Sant and “48 Hours” discovered a key investigative report in the case was not presented to the grand jury in 2017. In the report, an investigator for the Meridian Police Department writes that Andreacchio’s death should be investigated as a homicide. When told of the discovery, prosecutor Kassie Coleman said she was willing to reconvene a grand jury to present the new information.
Rae Andreacchio says she is hopeful that if a grand jury is reconvened, they will one day find justice for Christian. “We’re 100 percent confident that if the information is presented fairly, that people will be indicted. And then, of course, from there there’ll be a trial.”
New developments revealed in death of Christian Andreacchio The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ CBS News.