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Matthew Suhar's Death Still Unexplained One Year Later

By Darryl Holliday | March 17, 2014 6:11am
 The anniversary of Matthew Suhar's death on March 16, 2013 brings new case details and a benefit show for the beloved musician.
The anniversary of Matthew Suhar's death on March 16, 2013 brings new case details and a benefit show for the beloved musician.
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DNainfo/Darryl Holliday

IRVING PARK — Matthew Suhar's friends and family were left without answers a year ago when the Chicago musician was killed.

But while his death remains unsolved, new details have emerged proving Suhar wasn't at fault in the tragic case, his sister said.

An anniversary tribute is set for May 17 at the Double Door in Wicker Park, where a special lineup will gather to remember Suhar, a "bright light" of the Midwestern music scene who was found with a head wound near his home March 9, 2013.

The 46-year-old father was pronounced dead by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office one week later, March 16, 2013. Autopsy results listed the case as an accident due to "passenger exiting a moving vehicle" and police initially said Suhar may have fallen or jumped out of a taxi, but Suhar's sister, Cheryl Cramer, said the case is more likely a hit-and-run.

 Musicians are mourning the mysterious death of local manager Matthew Suhar, who died near his home on the Northwest Side in March 2013.
Matthew Suhar
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According to police, the case is being investigated by the Chicago Police Department's violent crimes division.

"Matt did all the right things that night; he didn't drive home, he took a cab 2 miles, and it still happened," Cramer said. "When our detective told us with '100 percent certainty that this was not your brother's fault' — that was great."

"I feel someone did this accidentally and then panicked."

Cramer said she suspects that panicked driver was behind the wheel of the cab Suhar took home from a fundraising event at Resi's Bierstube, 2034 Irving Park Road, about 2 miles from his home.

Two witnesses at the scene that night said the rear passenger door of Suhar's parked taxi opened and he exited the cab before striking his head on the curb, Cramer said. The cab then sped off, she said.

The investigation is still open in Suhar's case, but Cramer said she'd like to see the cab company identified.

"When something like this happens to you, you just want to know," she said. "You just want to know what anybody could know."

In the year since Suhar's death, his friends and family have rallied around each other for support. They've created an active Facebook page, Fans of Suhar, where many of the more than 1,100 members have posted photos and stories of their time with Suhar. One photo shows a fresh tattoo with Suhar's name and the day he died; others show Suhar, known for and identifiable by his baseball hats, throughout the years.

"My brother was so charismatic and such a ball of energy, and I know that a lot of that lives on in his friends, and, I hope, lives on in me," Cramer said. "I often just think how lucky I am to be his sister."

Doors open at 6 p.m. May 17 for "Fans of Suhar Present: the M@ Show" at the Double Door, featuring Truth and Salvage, Carl Broemel from My Morning Jacket, Robert Cornelius 7 and Local H.