INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - A central Indiana family is taking on the US Navy after the death of their son. It's 24-Hour New 8's exclusive investigation of the Navy's NCIS and the investigation has now reached Washington.
The Navy ordered a review of the death of Navy Seaman Kyle Antonacci after he was found dead three years ago. At issue: was it suicide or murder?
24-Hour News 8 is awaiting results of their review, but it is already being reviewed by the coroner in Illinois as well.
Meanwhile, his parents in Indiana just got word that a federal court will hear their wrongful death suit--a birthday gift for a son who would have turned 25-years-old on Tuesday.
ONLINE EXTRA | Sources and information in the case
Moving into their new home in central Indiana the Antonacci family celebrates another birthday without their son Kyle.
His mom, Lisa Antonacci says "We chose a cherry tree for Kyle's birthday to be planted in his honor because when he was growing up in Hicksville he had a cherry tree in the front yard and he absolutely adored it."
A Navy Sailor, Kyle was first a key witness in a sexual assault trial and then became an NCIS informant.
He reported he was being threatened by Marines who said if his testimony wasn't what they wanted "it would be bad" for Kyle.
Two hours after his last wiretapped call in 2010, Kyle Antonacci was found dead in his room on the Great Lakes Naval base.
NCIS agents said he hung himself. Others believe he was strangled. Shrouded in questions, the autopsy came back undetermined.
Key evidence--100 autopsy photos and Kyle's hyoid bone from his throat--turned up missing.
On this day, a simple message from his mom of Happy birthday.
But the message to the US Navy, NCIS and JAG officers is much stronger in this wrongful death lawsuit filed in federal court. His parents want answers.
Antonacci says, "The acknowledgement that the Navy and NCIS did play a role in my son's death."
They say NCIS didn't protect Kyle when he begged for help. The federal court just ruled, it will hear their case.
His father, Al Antonacci says "It's a victory because of how strong the military is and we are just ordinary Americans. And I know Kyle will be there too." Just as he was this day, his birthday.
The family took a sign from the sky. His mom says, "Kyle loved birds. Turkey vultures, peregrine falcons, everything. Odd they happened to show up right now." Next to the tree they have a birthday remembrance with the flag they once used to say goodbye. His mom explains, "That's the flag that was over his casket. That's the flag they presented to me at his funeral."
Oddly the court ruled very quickly to hear the case- within weeks.
They'll go to federal court May 23 in Chicago.
Meanwhile, Kyle's little brother and sisters want to get rocks, paint them and put them around the tree--one with a message to Kyle from each child.
Karen Hensel has been on this investigation for two years and found there are a lot of military parents who have been told their child's death was a suicide and they doubt it.
The Antonaccis want answers because they say NCIS did not protect their son--remember he was an NCIS informant.
The NCIS has refused comment to WISH TV's I-Team 8.
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