SEATTLE – Delvonn Heckard, the Kent, Washington, man who sued Seattle Mayor Ed Murray last year on allegations of sexual abuse decades ago – prompting other accusations to come to light, leading to Murray’s resignation – was found dead early Friday of an apparent drug overdose in an Auburn, Washington, motel.
“In my opinion, a hero died today,” attorney Lincoln Beauregard said Friday morning.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Heckard’s death Friday afternoon, noting the cause and manner of his death are pending.
About 2:05 a.m., police and fire medics responded to a room at the Auburn Motel on Auburn Way South for the apparent drug overdose of a middle-aged black male, Auburn Assistant Chief Bill Pierson said early Friday. Pierson, who declined to identify Heckard as the victim, said medics unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate the man. Police interviewed a witness, he said, and found “some type of medication in the room, as well as some illicit drug paraphernalia.”
Heckard had been in recovery for addiction to cocaine and other illicit drugs when he sued Murray in April, alleging Murray had repeatedly paid him for sex in the late 1980s when he was a teenager.
Heckard turned 47 on Valentine’s Day. He recently received a $100,000 payment as part of a $150,000 settlement with the city of Seattle to dismiss his suit against Murray and the city. Beauregard said he had set up a trust account for Heckard so he wouldn’t spend the money too quickly.
Heckard had a long history of arrests and criminal convictions, most of them drug-related. He told The Seattle Times during an interview in April that both of his parents were crack cocaine addicts who each died of a drug overdose. He added that for years he had struggled with his own addiction and the shame over the alleged abuse at the hands of Murray.
“I tried to commit suicide a couple of times, just because I was disgusted with myself, but I’m past that now,” Heckard told the Times.
Heckard said he left home as a teenager to live on the streets, claiming he first met Murray on a Metro bus when he was 15. Over the next several years, Heckard said, Murray would pay him small amounts of cash to perform sexual acts in Murray’s Capitol Hill apartment.
Murray has denied all of his accusers’ claims.
Heckard said his father’s death in 2016, coupled with his attempts at sobriety, caused him to come forward with his accusations against Murray last year. While the lawsuit developed, he participated in several counseling and recovery programs and attended classes at Seattle Central College. He planned to become a chemical-dependency counselor, he said.
Heckard “didn’t sound right” during their recent telephone conversations last month, Beauregard said.
“I could hear he was using again,” Beauregard said, “I could just hear it in his voice.”
Heckard’s suit last year prompted similar accusations to emerge publicly against Murray from four other men, eventually leading Murray to resign in September.
Heckard was the only accuser to take legal action to date. He voluntarily withdrew his lawsuit in June, but later refiled it adding the city as a co-defendant. That suit contended Murray also used his city resources and public office to defame Heckard and his other accusers.
During an interview after Murray resigned, Heckard broke down sobbing and expressed that his pursuit of the lawsuit had taken an emotional toll on him. Shortly after he withdrew his first suit, Heckard said, he received several mean-spirited messages from strangers branding him a liar. Murray’s resignation helped to heal some of the wounds, he said.
“I mean, at least the public knows that everything I was saying was the truth, right,” he said. “I’m not just some crackhead, some criminal, some street kid, I was telling the truth. And really, it’s not about him being mayor or not being mayor, it’s never been about his position and his job. I wasn’t in it for that, or for the money. Those were the least of my concerns.
“It was just me coming forward and telling the truth, and the public knowing that the man who was their mayor did this to me.”