It was opening day of gun season in Ohio when seasoned hunter Larry Bradley was shot while sitting 18 feet above the ground in his treestand. He sustained a gunshot wound to his torso from behind, and immediately phoned his wife. It would be the last conversation they would ever have.
He called Denise just before 8:30 a.m., just after he’d been shot. She was in bed with the kids. He told her to get help.
“I said, ‘What’s wrong?’
He said, ‘You just have to help me.’”
She heard him choking, gasping. A heart attack, she thought.
“He didn’t tell (his wife) the extent of his injuries,” [local Sheriff Joe] Browning said. “The impression we had was he was trying not to upset her.”
Bradley’s wife phoned the police, and authorities quickly realized that he had not been shot by his own gun, but by someone else or a stray bullet. The bullet entered through his back, just below the rib cage, and passed through quickly; he died in mere minutes.
Since the incident, Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning has been searching for leads and information that could provide closure to Bradley’s family and the small, close-knit community. Denise, Larry’s wife, is struggling to explain the tragedy to her four children.
“Riley [our daughter] said she was glad Daddy got to spend Christmas with Jesus this year,” Denise said.
No Closure for the Bradley Family
Around Christmastime, the Sheriff’s office received a one-page, anonymous hand-written letter, confessing to shooting and ultimately killing Larry Bradley. An excerpt from the letter, released by Browning in hopes of having the anonymous writer come forward, read:
I am so sorry for the hurt and pain that I caused on that day can u please tell the family I am so sorry.
Image via: Gallia County Sheriff’s Office / Dispatch.com
Browning has said he released the confession because he believes whoever sent it is also in pain and wants to talk about what happened.
“I think it’s probably something that is really bothering the shooter, and it’s not something that they are dealing with easily,” he said.
As for Denise and her family, she needs to know what happened; she needs a confession, and to have the opportunity to forgive whoever took her husband away from her.
“I know accidents can happen, but when they’re this big, you take responsibility for it,” she said. “A letter doesn’t cut it.”
As this tragic event continues to unfold and loved ones seek closure, we ask that if you live in this area and have any information regarding the case to please contact the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office at: phone (740)-446-1221 or fax (740)-441-2933.
Have you ever had a situation while hunting where you feared for your life? Was it from another hunter? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.