Two weeks after the death of a Murray man, who died following a scuffle with employees of a grocery store, one big question still remains.
Why did Joseph Felicetta III die?Felicetta, 42, collapsed Sept. 18 in the parking lot of Albertson's Food Center, 5570 S. 900 East, after struggling with store employees. The employees had confronted him inside the store and accused him of stealing eight nasal inhalers.
A struggle apparently ensued as store workers tried to detain him. When officers arrived, Felicetta was having difficulty breathing. His condition deteriorated. An officer performed CPR until paramedics arrived and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Family members are still confused about the incident and are anxious to find some answers.
"He was a 41-year-old strong, healthy guy. He didn't just up and die. Something happened," said Scott Berry, the Felicetta's attorney. "Even if he was stealing, you don't get to execute him on the spot."
The attorney placed an ad in Monday's newspapers asking anyone who may have seen what happened to call him. "The Felicetta family needs your help," the ad states.
Berry described Felicetta as "mentally impaired." About 10 years ago, he fell off of a four-story building and was left with the mind of an 8- or 9-year-old child, he said.
Felicetta rode to the store that day on his bicycle - complete with a Big Bird ringer on the handlebars, according to Berry. Although Felicetta was a large man, Berry described him was a "gentle giant type" who took care of pigeons at home and collected Mickey and Minnie Mouse stickers.
"He was a real simple guy."
Police, too, are baffled about how the death occurred. Witnesses said there was a scuffle between Felicetta, a store security guard and a manager. "He was apparently able to throw them (the store employees) aside . . . before he was subdued," said Murray Police Detective Jeff Anderson. "To look at him, he's a big guy."
An initial autopsy was inconclusive about the cause of death, Anderson said. Investigators theorized that Felicetta may have suffered a relapse of the injuries that damaged his brain during the accident 10 years ago, but the autopsy did not support that.
Neither was there any indication from the autopsy that Felicetta had been choked, the detective said.
Murray police are awaiting additional toxicology and other reports from the state medical examiner before concluding their investigation. Albertson's officials, police officers and family members alike are all anxious to understand the tragedy and hope additional test results will answer the questions they don't understand.
But no one may ever know why Felicetta may have wanted the nasal inhalers. Whether he was addicted to them or used them to get high is anyone's guess because of the man's mental state, said Berry.
"He may just have been stealing them because the packages were pretty."