On the afternoon of June 19, a fisherman spotted Bradstreet’s lifeless body lying in the Broad River in the tiny town of Chimney Rock, N.C. He had a gunshot wound to his chest, authorities said. A gun was found in the water nearby.
That’s about all that everyone can agree on.
Like his research, Bradstreet’s death has become a Rorschach test in which his supporters see a conspiracy, while most everyone else — including law enforcement — sees a slow downward slide towards suicide.
The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office said it is investigating Bradstreet’s death, but that the wound appears to have been self-inflicted.
Bradstreet had been a leading voice in the anti-vaccine, or “anti-vaxxer,” movement for nearly two decades.
He was a former preacher who traded the pulpit for a physician’s gown, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post. Bradstreet received his medical degree from the University of South Florida and completed his residency at the Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center in Texas, according to a paper he wrote.
Nonetheless, his son’s case helped convince Bradstreet that vaccines caused autism. He took his message to the highest levels of government. Twice he testified about the supposed link between vaccines and autism before the U.S. House of Representatives.
“He was a very happy, well connected child prior to his MMR at approximately 12 months of age,” Bradstreet told representatives in 2002, presenting copies of his son’s various tests. “Matthew completely lost about 2 months after his MMR vaccine.”
It is unclear what role Bradstreet’s controversial research and therapeutic techniques might have played in his death. According to the Gwinnett Daily Post, the FDA and Georgia’s Drugs and Narcotics Agency raided his Buford clinic in the days before his death.
“Multiple law enforcement officials said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration searched Bradstreet Wellness Center last week,” the newspaper reported on June 26. “On Monday, [June 22] plastic sheets covered the windows of the two suites the office takes up in a complex off Commerce Drive, and the doors were locked. ”
It’s still unclear why the raid was carried out. For many, however, the timing seemed to fit with the official explanation of a suicide