Family Fights For Answers Surrounding Marine's Death - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

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Family Fights For Answers Surrounding Marine's Missing Heart

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COATESVILLE, Pa. -

A local family fights for answers in the tragic suicide of their loved one, a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. With everyone giving the family the go-around, Congressman Pat Meehan has decided to help them get answers.

In a quiet room, in a grieving family's home, there's a shrine to a fallen Marine.

"It's peaceful in this room. Brian's here. Brian's here in this house. This is Brian's room. This is where we come to be with him," Mother Beverly LaLoup said.

They come to be with the youngest of their three sons, Sgt. Brian LaLoup of the United States Marine Corps.

The 21-year-old Marine, assigned to provide security to the American Embassy in Athens, Greece, shot himself in the head in August of 2012 with an embassy service pistol. The tragic event took place at an embassy building after a night of drinking and, according to a lawsuit filed by his family, after he told a fellow Marine:

"...I don't have anybody who loves me..."

The lawsuit also says:

"...He is sad all the time and had thoughts of shooting himself in the face with a shotgun..."

These are statements, according to the lawsuit, which should have prompted the Marines to supervise LaLoup and get him medical attention, but they didn't.

"I don't have him where I can hold him and talk to him. He was loved by everybody--our family here--we died with him," Brian's father Craig LaLoup said.

But it's not just the Pennsylvania Marine's suicide that rips at his family, it's also the stunning news they learned about what happened to his corpse in an Athens hospital. News they became aware of only after Sgt. Brian LaLoup was given full military honors and buried.

The LaLoups buried their son at the Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Pennsylvania, only to learn later that his heart was not inside his chest.

What they were stunned to find out was that after he died at the Hospital, LaLoup's heart was removed during an autopsy and never returned.

The startling news came when a Marine 1st. Sgt. visiting their home handed Beverly LaLoup a document from the Armed Services Medical Examiner stating Brian LaLoup's remains are incomplete. They had a missing heart.

The LaLoups say they've tried for nearly a year and a half to get answers from the Marines and others as to why it was taken where their son's heart is, but their efforts have been stonewalled.

According to the lawsuit, in an attempt to pacify the LaLoups, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Greek government had a heart shipped to Dover Air force base, claiming it was Sgt. LaLoup's missing heart. However, according to the Department of Defense Final Autopsy Report, DNA testing found that the heart did not match his DNA.

Craig and Beverly LaLoup, along with their son John, have filled their Coatesville home with picture after picture of their lost son. Their grief remains powerful and often overwhelms them.

They've sued the Department of Defense, the Navy and now the Greek Government and the hospital that performed the autopsy, to find out what happened, says their lawyer.

"I want to know where his heart is and why it was taken and I need to know why the Marine Corps thought they needed to lie to us about it," Beverly LaLoup said.

"I want to do right by my son. They disrespected him. I want his honor restored. Nobody should have done that to him. It's despicable," Craig LaLoup said.

The United States Marine Corps refused comment.

On the telephone, Christos Failadis, a spokesman for the Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C. said his government "feels sorry for the tragic event and said the Greek Ambassador has expressed his condolences to Beverly Laloup."

He did confirm published reports that the heart was taken for "toxicology purposes," but when FOX 29 asked if the Greek government knows where Sgt. Laloup's heart is he said he had "no comment and claimed he didn't know anything about that."

Now, Congressman Pat Meehan is pressing to find out the truth for the family from his district.

What happened to their son's heart and the second question becomes who sent another heart to them and said it was his," said Representative Meehan.

Meehan has sent a letter to the Commandant of the Marine Corps seeking answers, specifically asking about the "chain of custody" of Laloup's remains and of DNA testing of the heart.

"They're going to tell us," Meehan said. "We're going to find out what happened here. The question is how quickly and where this trail will land."

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