A Chicago cop, found dead amid an FBI investigation into her cop-husband’s shooting death, accidentally drowned in her bathtub after drinking alcohol and taking an anti-anxiety drug, the Cook County medical examiner has ruled.
Officer Dina Markham’s body was found at 5:58 p.m. May 28 — about 14 hours after she texted a friend, Patti Thornton, saying, “Help. Please . . . no kidding,” according to records released Monday by the medical examiner’s office.
Thornton and another friend, Christine Jummati, had gone to Markham’s home on the Northwest Side around 5 p.m. and were let inside by one of her sons, the records show.
When Markham’s friends found her bathroom door locked, “They assumed Markham was inside ‘hiding’ from them . . . and didn’t want to talk with them at the time,” according to the medical examiner. “They left a note on her pillow but returned shortly afterwards out of concern.”
When they came back about 45 minutes later, they were let inside by the same son. He unlocked the door to his mother’s bathroom, where she was found “fully immersed in a bathtub filled with water,” according to the medical examiner’s office.
Her cellphone was on the floor. There was no suicide note.
Markham, 47, had a blood-alcohol level of .187 percent, an autopsy found. Under state law, a level of .08 percent while driving is considered evidence of drunk driving. A medical examiner’s investigator found “an empty bottle of champagne and Jack Daniels” on the kitchen counter and also found an empty bottle of the prescription medication alprazolam — an anti-anxiety drug sold under brand names including Xanax, a drug that, when taken with alcohol, can be deadly.
The autopsy found she had mild hepatic steatosis — fatty liver disease — from chronic alcohol use.
Her death came after the FBI urged the Chicago Police Department to reexamine its conclusion that her husband, Sgt. Don Markham, committed suicide, the Chicago Sun-Times has reported.
Donald Markham was found dead in bed in the master bedroom of the family’s home in Old Norwood Park of a gunshot wound to the head on Sept. 2, 2015.
Detectives led by Lt. Denis P. Walsh concluded that Donald Markham killed himself after arguing with his wife for keeping him out too late at a country bar in Edison Park on a work night.
But months after Donald Markham was found dead and the police concluded his death was a suicide, the FBI got a tip that the narcotics unit supervisor might have been murdered. After reviewing the case, the FBI urged the police to reexamine the suicide finding — a task that would have been assigned to the Bureau of Internal Affairs, where Dina Markham was working when her husband died.
But police brass were concerned, sources previously have told the Sun-Times, that Dina Markham, who reported finding the body, had worked in internal affairs for years. That was until June 2016, when she was transferred to the Area North detectives division at Belmont and Western, which ruled her husband’s death a suicide. She was then reassigned to police headquarters.
Instead, the police referred the case to City Hall Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, whose staff is looking into how police handled the investigation of Donald Markham’s death.
Walsh —who at the time was under investigation for his role in the botched investigation of David Koschman’s death at the hands of a nephew of Mayor Richard M. Daley — has since retired to avoid being fired over the Koschman case.
Dina Markham died six days after two Sun-Times reporters came to her home to try to interview her about her husband’s death. Asked whether she was aware of the FBI’s investigation, she said she wasn’t. Asked about the police reports on her husband’s death, she told the reporters she didn’t need to see those, saying, “I don’t need to review it. I lived it.”
The Markhams have five children.