SEATTLE (AP) — A 47-year-old man who sued former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray over sexual abuse claims that effectively ended Murray’s political career was found dead Friday in a motel room.
Delvonn R. Heckard died in the Seattle suburb of Auburn, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. The cause and manner of Heckard’s death are pending.
Auburn Assistant Police Chief Bill Pierson said police and fire medics responded to a room at the Auburn Motel early Friday for the apparent drug overdose of a middle-aged black male, The Seattle Times reported .
Pierson, who declined to identify the man as Heckard, said medics unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate the man. Police interviewed a witness and found “some type of medication in the room, as well as some illicit drug paraphernalia,” he said.
Heckard had been in recovery for addiction to cocaine and other drugs when he sued Murray in April, alleging Murray had repeatedly paid him for sex in the late 1980s when he was a teenager.
After Heckard filed his lawsuit, two other men claimed Murray sexually abused them when they were teens in Portland, Oregon, in the 1980s.
Murray denied the claims and then a fourth man came forward, also claiming Murray paid him for sex when he was a teenager.
Murray was in his first mayoral term when he resigned in September after his cousin, Joseph Dyer, became the fifth man to publicly accuse Murray of child sexual abuse decades ago.
Murray has denied all of the allegations.
Heckard said last year that his father’s death and his attempts at sobriety caused him to come forward with his accusations against Murray. While the lawsuit developed, he participated in counseling and recovery programs and attended classes at Seattle Central College. He planned to become a chemical-dependency counselor, he said.
Heckard had dropped and then refiled his lawsuit, adding the city as a defendant, claiming the city had enabled Murray to use his political office to slander Heckard and others for months as the mayor denied the allegations. The city settled with Heckard in late December for $150,000.
Heckard was the only accuser to take legal action to date.
“A hero died today,” Heckard’s lawyer, Lincoln Beauregard, tweeted Friday.