Law enforcement is tasked with protecting the public and bringing the bad guys to justice. It’s frustrating, then, when they fail to do so. It’s even more frustrating when law enforcement refuses to acknowledge its mistakes and won’t try to right its wrongs for reasons of pride.
Some homicide cases are complicated and it’s difficult to decipher all of the facts. The case of 27-year-old Donald Edward “D.J.” Fickey is not one of them. Law enforcement doesn’t want to acknowledge that the young father was murdered on October 3, 2016. In fact, investigators ruled the young man’s death a suicide without any investigation whatsoever.
If you look at the facts, however, it’s obvious that this man, who had much to live for, did not take his own life that day. The facts will also show that investigators had their own selfish reasons for dismissing D.J.’s death as a suicide and closing the case as quickly as possible.
Donald “D.J.” Fickey was born on November 14, 1988, in Oglethorpe, Georgia.  The son of Donald Sr. and Kathy, D.J. was the only boy out of four children, and the family shared a close bond. He was especially close to his sister Amanda.
When D.J. was just 14, his life changed forever when Donald Sr. died from cancer.
A funny, caring prankster, D.J. met a girl named Brandy and fell in love. Soon after, Brandy became pregnant, and the two got married. The couple had three children.
Growing up, D.J. often helped an elderly man known as “Old Man” with a variety of tasks, including taking care of his bedridden wife. After D.J. and Brandy got married, D.J. took Brandy to meet Old Man. She began to spend more and more time at Old Man’s house and became friends with a number of people who also hung out there, including a man named Mark, who was a drug dealer.  
Sadly, shortly after D.J. and Brandy got married, they became ensnared by drugs.  Yet, despite their battle with addiction, they still had the good sense to put their children first. So, the couple decided it would be in the kids’ best interest to relinquish custody to D.J.s mom, Kathy.
D.J. was more dedicated to kicking his drug habit than Brandy was, and as is often the case, D.J. was able to stay clean…until he was around his wife again. But despite his many defeats, he never gave up. He wanted his kids back. He wanted his life back. He even started training to be a professional fighter.  
D.J. got clean several times while Brandy continued to use, and eventually, Brandy and Mark developed a romantic relationship. 
This series of events put D.J. in a dangerous situation, not only because he was willing to put his sobriety at risk to be with Brandy and to protect her from the unsavory people who hung out at Old Man’s house, but because Mark was becoming obsessed with him and desperately wanted him out of the picture.
The Beginning of the End
D.J.’s problems reached the tipping point in May 2016, when he and Brandy were riding in a car with Old Man’s son and daughter. They were pulled over by the police and D.J. and Brandy got arrested for drug possession and were sent to prison.
The arrest, as crushing as it could have been, actually served as a wake-up call for D.J. In the months that followed, he got out of jail, got sober, moved in with his mom, and started seeing other women. It appeared that D.J. finally grasped the toxicity of his relationship with Brandy and was ready to move on.
However, when Brandy got out of jail, she, too, moved in with D.J.’s mom, Kathy. As much as D.J. wanted to move on, he was still very much protective of his estranged wife and the mother of his children.
On the night of August 29, 2016, a Dekalb County official came to Kathy’s house looking for Brandy. It is believed that this individual was either a bondsman or an officer serving a warrant. Fearing that Brandy would be sent back to jail, D.J. and Brandy decided to leave and head to Brandy’s aunt’s house, where they spent several nights before moving back onto Old Man’s property.
A few weeks later, on September 14, D.J.’s sister, Amanda, received a voicemail from D.J. letting her know that he needed to find another place to stay because Brandy had gotten back together with Mark.
D.J. took to Facebook a few days later, messaging friends and family to see if anyone would be willing to take him in until he could find permanent lodging. His efforts were unsuccessful and he soon wound up back at Old Man’s place.
It was becoming increasingly evident to D.J. that Mark was willing to do whatever it took to get him out of the picture and have Brandy all to himself.
D.J.’s old friend Misty, along with her daughter, picked him up on September 24 and took him out to dinner. As they ate and chatted about their lives, D.J. told Misty that he believed Mark wanted to kill him.
He explained that Mark had recently jumped him as he was getting out of the shower and put a knife to his throat. Mark also went after him with a baseball bat, and in the process of defending himself with a golf club, D.J. knocked one of Mark’s teeth out, which pissed Mark off even more.
After D.J.’s death, Misty said that D.J. was covered in bruises on the day they went out to eat and that the bruises looked like they came from a bat or club.
D.J. went on to tell his old friend that Mark had given him a “hot shot,” an intentionally lethal dose of drugs. D.J. struggled to gather his bearings for several days after the incident. He told Misty that the near-fatal dose made him act erratically and made him very sick.
“If anything ever happens to me, make sure the police investigate Brandy and Mark,” D.J. told his friend.
After their meal, D.J., Misty, and Savannah drove around for some time, talking, before D.J. had Misty drop him off at Old Man’s house so he could be with Brandy.
For a guy who supposedly killed himself, D.J. Fickey seemed awfully desperate to get out of the dangerous situation he was living in.
A few days after meeting Misty, D.J. confided in his aunt that Mark had attacked him on more than one occasion. He explained that the confrontations were over Brandy and that Mark was trying to kill him. D.J. was concerned about three things: That Mark would, indeed, kill him; that Mark would harm Brandy; and that Mark would find a way to take his children from Kathy.
D.J. also shared another incident involving Mark with his aunt. One day, D.J. and Brandy were sitting on a swing on Old Man’s property discussing the possibility of them both moving back into Kathy’s house.
Mark overheard the conversation, stormed out of his camper, put a gun to Brandy’s head, and told her that the only way she would ever leave would be in a body bag. Mark then made Brandy go back inside the camper they shared.
That evening, D.J.’s aunt dropped him off about 30 minutes away from Old Man’s property, but D.J. wound up back at Old Man’s later that night.
On October 1, 2016, D.J. called his mom to check on the kids. He spoke with his son about what he wanted for Christmas — a “choo-choo train.” D.J. told Kathy not to buy him one because he wanted to be the one to give it to him. D.J. seemed to be in good spirits.
A man with a death wish does not make future plans.
It was early in the afternoon on October 3 when D.J. Fickey began texting friends, asking them to help him get away from Old Man’s property.
During one exchange, D.J. literally begged for someone to get him, stating that it would “save his life” and that he and Mark were trying to kill each other.
D.J. texted his mom, Kathy:
“you got 2 come get me now”
He told his mother that he was fighting with Mark over Brandy and that if someone didn’t come to get him, he was going to die there.
A mother always wants to help her child, but Kathy was suffering from heart problems and was scheduled to have surgery soon. Her doctors had told her to avoid stress, so for her own health, she could not have D.J. and Brandy come and live with her.
Kathy gave D.J. some other suggestions on where the couple could stay and tried to convince her son that Brandy was not worth fighting over. She was, after all, the woman who always made him fall off the wagon and cheated on him repeatedly. But D.J. was a good man. He loved Brandy, and he didn’t want the mother of his children to get hurt or worse.
At 1:12 .pm., a call came into Walker County 911. It was from Mark. He said he needed an ambulance immediately because someone had killed himself by shooting himself in the mouth with a shotgun.
In total, three separate 911 calls were placed. You can listen to each of them here.
In Part 2, we will discuss the investigation into D.J. Fickey’s death…or the lack thereof.
UPDATE: There is some FANTASTIC news to report. On August 25, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) overturned the ruling that D.J.’s death was a suicide.  His cause of death is now listed as “undetermined.” That means the case can be reopened and investigated as a possible homicide.
HOWEVER, frustratingly, Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson has no plans of reopening the case…even though the GBI said there wasn’t enough evidence to rule D.J.’s death a suicide.
Please, BOMBARD the Walker County Sheriff’s office on social media. It’s time for the police to DO THEIR JOB!