On the surface, it would appear that Taemon Blair had a bright future. Blair, who graduated from West Charlotte High School in North Carolina as a straight A honor roll student, was a soon-to-be father with a steady job as a truck driver, yet the 21-year-old known fondly as "Duke" to his friends and family was found dead in Indiana on March 14.
While some people-- including members of the Fort Wayne police department and Allen County Deputy Coroner Christopher Meihls-- have declared Taemon Blair's death an obvious suicide, others have taken to social media to make the claim that Blair was lynched by white supremacists, and that his death was covered up by mainstream media.
According to news reports, Blair's body was found hanging in the back of his delivery truck by a colleague. Conflicting, but unverified reports on social media allege that Blair's body showed evidence of defensive wounds, indicating that a struggle had taken place. Others speculate how it is even physically possible for a 6'5" man to hang himself in the back of a truck in the first place.
These rumors and questions, quite understandably, have led Blair's relatives to question the death-by-suicide theory.
"All of our lives we've had to struggle," wrote Taemon's older brother, Dee Smith, on a GoFundMe page set up for Blair. "In and out of foster homes, and group homes. Taemon went through a rough patch in his life. He went to jail for a year. When he got out he promised to change his life. He went and got his diploma. He had straight A's in HS. He has always been on the A honor roll. My brother finally got his life on track!"
Smith's GoFundMe page, which seeks to raise money to cover the cost of funeral expenses, has already raised close to $8,000 of its $10,000 goal in just ten days. According to Smith, the family has experienced more tragedy and heartbreak than any household deserves. Smith's mother, Taesha Hunt, had seven children, three of whom are now deceased. One of the Smith offspring who died in infancy was Taemon's twin sister, Xaveria.
While the sad tale has softened the hearts of hundreds of GoFundMe donors, Allen County officials are firm in their assertion that Blair met his untimely demise by his own hand. A press release issued on March 21 by Deputy Coroner Christopher Meihls states bluntly:
“The cause of death is asphyxia due to hanging, and the manner of death is suicide.”
The release was undersigned by four additional state-certified medicolegal death investigators-- Michael Burris, Becky Stuttle, Kevin Rarey and Dick Alfeld.
A statement issued by the Fort Wayne Police Department to Fox 55 reporter Abby Jackson reads:
“As is the case with all death investigation we have a very thorough and comprehensive investigative process. I am confident had we found signs of a suspicious death and the Allen County Coroner corroborated those findings it would not have been ruled a suicide.”
So what evidence, if any, indicates that Taemon Blair was murdered, or possibly lynched by white supremacists?
While the “too tall to hang” theory is fascinating, it is not necessarily convincing. In the United States, a standard 53-foot standard freight trailer has an overall clearance of 13’6”, and an interior height of 108 inches. Since Blair stood 77 inches tall, this means he could have hanged himself and still would have had around 30 inches to spare. Even the smallest commercial freight trailer-- a 40-footer-- has an interior height of 94.5 inches.
And what about the multitude of claims that Blair’s death is being “suppressed” by mainstream media?
At the risk of getting overly political, it is a well-documented fact that the vast majority of social justice activists tend to not only lean left, they lean hard to the left. Couple this with the equally well-documented fact that the overwhelming majority of American journalists identify as liberal or Democrat, and it seems a virtual impossibility that any news suppression is taking place.
A 2018 study by Arizona State University and Texas A&M polled 462 financial journalists and found that 58.47% admit to holding left-of-center political views. Meanwhile, just 3.94% identified as conservative. And that’s just financial journalists!
An analysis by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) exploring political donations from media outlets revealed that 97% of donations from journalists go to Democratic candidates, while Washington Post reported in 2014 that just 7% of journalists are Republicans. To put that into perspective, 25.7% of journalists identified as Republican in 1971.
Of course, one who is a liberal Democrat can still be a racist, just as African-Americans and Latinos can be staunch conservatives. However, it appears that the only sources spreading the Taemon Blair lynching conspiracy theory are far-left fringe blogs, uninformed social media users, and hip-hop culture websites.
Based upon Google searches on the death of Taemon Blair, it appears that the majority of “buzz” about the possibility of lynching comes from sites such as Lipstick Alley, which bills itself as the Internet’s Largest African American Forum and prominently features such bloggers as “raunchbunny”, “Mrs. Juicyyypeach1” and “Rihab Patient”. While Lipstick Alley might be your go-to source for juicy gossip about Cardi B., it’s hardly what I would call the home of hard-hitting investigative journalism.
Other purveyors of the Taemon Blair lynching conspiracy include Street Elements Magazine, which declares (without offering a single corroborating source):
Taemon Blair 21 years old Straight A Student, West Charlotte High School Grad, Brother, Son, Soon to be Father and a Truck Driver was lynched in the trailer of his 18 wheeler on March 15, 2019 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was lynched but officially his death was labeled as a suicide.
The author of the article, who is identified only by the byline “The CEO”, asserts (again without providing sources) that Blair’s hands had been tied and that there appeared to be signs of a struggle-- unverified claims that are spreading throughout the Twittersphere like ignorant, mindless wildfire after being shared by celebrities such as T.I. and Big Boi.
While there appears to be no mention of these obviously important details in any legitimate news story or press release about Blair’s death, the details about Blair’s troubled life are far easier to locate.
According to arrest records, Taemon’s rap sheet includes kidnapping, assault, and robbery with a dangerous weapon. Blair was arrested on Friday, May 20, 2018, by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Police Department and was booked into the Mecklenburg County Jail in Charlotte, with bail set in the amount of $196,500.
Of course, Blair’s past mistakes may have no bearing whatsoever on what really transpired on March 14, but the possibility of murder seems out of the question. I raised this question to a handful of professional truck drivers, to see if there could be any chance that the law enforcement officials in Indiana got it wrong.
Bobby Vonada, a veteran trucker of over 15 years, explained to Journal of the Bizarre:
“Have you ever been inside the back of a tractor trailer or a delivery truck? Or even a U-Haul? They’re filthy. Even if you sweep them out there’s still enough dirt, dust and grime to leave clearly visible footprints. If anyone was in the back of the truck with that kid his footprints would be all over the place.”
So, are we to believe that Blair’s killer either managed to commit the foul deed without setting foot inside the trailer, or had the time and foresight to sweep out the inside of the trailer after lynching his victim? This just seems difficult to believe.
Gary Smith, a long-haul driver with over 30 years of experience, says essentially the same thing:
“It’s impossible to hang a noose anywhere inside your standard 53-footer without setting foot inside the trailer. It just can’t be done, period. Footprints show up easily on metal, especially bare metal that has recently been cleaned.”
So, in other words, if the inside of the trailer was filthy, footprints would have been visible-- and if the inside of the trailer was squeaky clean, footprints.... would have been visible. Unless the alleged killer somehow managed to hover off the ground while lynching a 175-pound man, there’s just no way this could have happened.
While it seems that Taemon Blair’s death was indeed suicide, it is nonetheless a tragedy. This was a man tortured by the deaths of siblings, under the stress of impending fatherhood, trying to rebuild his life after spending a year in prison. And, as anyone with a criminal record will tell you, this is no easy task. Unfortunately, for many people it is an impossible task.