By Perry Chiaramonte, ,
Published January 12, 2017
The mystery surrounding the death of an American defense contractor at a Saudi Arabia hotel mounted Friday amid speculation about what happened in the days leading up to his death.
Local authorities in the Saudi city of Tabuk claimed that Christopher Cramer, 50, likely committed suicide after his body plummeted from a third floor window of the Sahara Makarim Hotel.
But family and friends maintain there was no way the New Hampshire native would take his own life and that he likely was murdered for being a threat to a lucrative arms deal.
“The problem was with the customer,” Cramer family attorney and longtime friend of the victim, Noah Mandell, told FoxNews.com. “The missile system was already sold to the Saudi company and they were complaining that it wasn’t working. He was basically sent to see if he could prove that they were firing it incorrectly.”
Mandell also said he believes that the Tow Missile system was sabotaged before Cramer arrived with a colleague in Saudi Arabia on Jan. 8.
“When Chris showed up everything was inoperable,” he said.
Officials with Cramer’s employer, Kollsman Inc., said that the systems were not malfunctioning and nothing was tampered with.
“They showed up, they helped put it together and the demonstrations went without a hitch, “Clark Friese, a spokesman for Kollsman, told FoxNews.com. “Everything was operating and fully functional. Chris had even posted a video of one of the missile firings.”
However, text messages Cramer sent to family members from Saudi Arabia indicated some of the prior equipment could have been in poor condition.
“We fired 6 missiles with one near miss,” he said in a message to his nephew. “Their M109s are old and full of problems.”
“Lol easy fix or gonna take some time,” Cramer’s nephew, Christopher Arsenault, replied.
“They want to check out firing some of the new tow 2A RF link aeros and some extended range tow. I'll be shooting them till Thursday and if they like the performance of our stuff, we're gonna get an order for a ton of upgrades,” Cramer texted back.
Mandell also theorized that the company that bought the TOW system, Saudi-based Global Defense Systems wanted the equipment to malfunction so they could recoup some of their money they spent on the system.
“It’s like a used car scam,” he said. “Like taking a car for a test drive and stopping to pop open the hood and crossing wires.
“Then you’re paying $5000 for a car that’s worth ten.”
The circumstances surrounding Cramer’s death have made it difficult for the family to have his body repatriated to the U.S. for an autopsy but Friese told FoxNews.com that progress on that front has been made.
“We have been calling every single day, working with the embassy,” he said. “We have finally gotten all the needed info to his family and we have given them the money for repatriation and an autopsy.
“It’s just a matter of moving through the process at this point.”