by Travis Mateer
Sheriff Toth, I know you’re doing the best you can. It’s clear how hard you’re trying, but that failing organ in your chest may not be getting the oxygen your brain needs to function properly.
Why is this a problem? Well, it seems certain institutions, like crime labs and newspapers, are deeply beholden to the documents you generate, documents like “police reports” and other tangible proof that stuff like “investigations” are happening.
Two documents now exist–documents called “autopsies”–and for the public to be properly informed about the results of these autopsies, you, Sheriff Toth, have a responsibility as an information gatekeeper to accurately depict the basic facts of such documents to the media.
Since it appears that a problem of accuracy developed somewhere between Sheriff Toth and the Missoulian, a headline had to be amended hours after it was posted online. Here is the original headline, just below the image the Missoulian used for the story.
And here is the amended title of the article with an alternation that might not seem significant at first, but it is, as I will try to explain.
Before getting to Angela Mastrovito’s Facebook response, allow me to describe something I hadn’t realized until investigating this story. There is apparently a BIG difference between CAUSE of death and MANNER of death. Here’s the distinction:
In this case, after talking to the director of the State Crime Lab, Rebekah’s CAUSE of death is only PRESUMED to be drowning because the dog the crime lab NEVER saw and NEVER examined was found in the water, its cause of death unknown. Does that sound like flimsy reasoning? Does that assume the dog entered the water at the same time Rebekah did? What is the proof of that?
The Director of the crime lab, Travis Spinder, was adamant about the fact they DO NOT investigate the circumstances that can determine the MANNER of death. In this case, that would have been the responsibility of the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office. Anything beyond the remains being examined is derived from those “documents” I mentioned, like “police reports”.
What documents did Sheriff Deputy Ryan Funke generate, considering he was the responding law enforcement official first on the scene to discover Rebekah’s vehicle and personal belongings? And what kind of documents did CORONER Ryan Funke generate, since this talented dude is ALSO that for Mineral County? Was there documentation involved in Funke’s decision WHEN to release Rebekah’s remains for
evidence destruction cremation? There’s a few other details that have me wondering if Funke is the grim reaper in this case.
Now, on to Angela Mastrovito’s quick attempt to counter the misinformation being passed along by the Missoulian.
The content of the Missoulian article presents another problem, and that’s the impression that the CAUSE of death is still being investigated. Really?
The cause of death still is under investigation, meaning officials haven’t determined why or how she drowned, Mineral County Sheriff Mike Toth explained.
While there seems to be a pretty clear admission that the MANNER of the alleged drowning of Rebekah Barsotti hasn’t been determined, the reporting DOES seem confident that it had NOTHING to do with domestic violence, despite the “former spouse” facing a PFMA charge last March, a no-contact order, video evidence of Rebekah’s terror, text evidence of HIS death threats toward her, and a six year domestic violence history chronicled by local police reports.
Nope, nothing to see here. From the “reporting”:
For Mastrovito, her daughter’s case has transitioned into an effort to raise domestic violence awareness, citing allegations that Barsotti’s former spouse was abusive, although authorities have not connected Barsotti’s case to domestic violence.
Yes, authorities haven’t connected Barsotti’s case to domestic violence because they’ve been busy at lemonade stands.
I cropped this picture because I’m not a big fan of using kids to show how narrative control functions, but I do think it’s interesting to see this picture uploaded right around the same time the second autopsy was being completed at the State Crime Lab in Missoula.
It’s incredibly frustrating to have so little media attention on this story for so long, then, as authorities ensure information trickles out on THEIR timetable, this article, with its misleading headline, gets to start forming the narrative the public will consume.
Until the media landscape changes, failed Sheriffs and grim reaping deputies will be able to set their preferred narrative. Luckily, there are other people working to ensure the truth will win out in the end.
Thanks for reading!