By David Irvin
For nearly three months she has quietly followed her daily routine, trying to maintain her composure and show the world everything is all right.
But in the back of Lynda Crozier-Sweet’s mind, the haunting memory of her niece’s mysterious death in October lingers.
Her niece, Kimberly Susan Novak, died Oct. 28 in her home on Cannon Air Force Base. She was 20.
Nearly three months later, Crozier-Sweet and Novak’s family are still waiting to hear about how she died.
Crozier-Sweet said the Air Force hasn’t released any information about the case to her brother, Novak’s father, a decision family members say denies them any chance of closure.
“We don’t feel that she just dropped dead of natural causes,” Crozier-Sweet said Wednesday in a phone interview from her home in Pleasant Ridge, Mich.
She said the family believes Novak died under suspicious circumstances. The possibility the death could be a homicide haunts the family. But even more haunting is their fear this case will simply disappear.
“Our family is small, and I don’t want to think just because our family is small this whole thing is just going to be swept under the rug,” Crozier-Sweet said. Being thousands of miles from Clovis adds to their alienation, she said.
Crozier-Sweet said Novak’s father has been contacting the Office of Special Investigations at Cannon, but after nearly three months, he hasn’t made any inroads.
Attempts to reach other family members, including Novak’s husband Edward Novak II of Cannon, were unsuccessful.
Novak was honorably discharged from the Air Force in August after having a baby, Crozier-Sweet said.
Capt. Andre Kok of Cannon Public Affairs said there is no new information in the case that can be released. Col. John Posner, commander at Cannon, said in December he doesn’t know the cause of death. He also said there have been no arrests in connection with the death.
“Basically what we want to do is let our OSI carry out a complete and thorough investigation,” Kok said.
Officials at the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator said they haven’t received the toxicology report on Novak, which is holding up the publication of the autopsy reports. Additionally, the death certificate has not been signed, meaning there isn’t enough information to say for sure how she died, officials said.
Capt. Regen Wilson, director of public affairs for the Office of Special Investigations for the Air Force, said he wasn’t familiar with the Novak case, but said it is standard procedure to withhold information from the public before the findings come in.
He said discussing a case with the media or the family could jeopardize the integrity of the investigation.
“There’s no set timeline for anything,” he said. “We investigate until we arrive at a conclusion of one sort or another.”
But three months after Novak’s mysterious death, that’s no comfort to her family.
“I am ready to get some justice for my niece,” Crozier-Sweet said. “We are all just wondering, what happened to our Kim?”