Family of murdered man thankful for US Congressman’s apology

February 9, 2023

Corey Beekman, left, with Congressman Matt Gaetz

Family of murdered man thankful for US Congressman’s apology

Rep. Matt Gaetz sends flag in son’s honor

William Craig Buchanan

Bill Buchanan

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor

A Mears family was outraged after a former Mason County man who was charged with murdering a family member four years ago was honored recently by the House Judiciary Committee.

However, a flag honoring their slain son and a written apology from the US Congressman involved in last week’s honors ceremony of the once accused murderer were sent to the family. 

“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Billy Buchanan’s mother Denita Buchanan as she wept. Denita is relieved that the proper hero is now being honored. 

Denita and her husband William Buchanan were devastated after receiving the news that their only son, William Craig Buchanan, 32, was murdered in 2019, and the heartbreak only intensified in September of 2020 when they were informed that the charges against Corey Ryan Beekman, accused of his murder, were dismissed.

Last week, the old wounds reopened when Beekman was honored by US Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) as the former Army National Guard staff sergeant — dressed in uniform — led the House Judiciary Committee in the Pledge of Allegiance. Videos of the ceremony were shared by Gaetz’s office on social media but have since been removed.


Beekman, who now lives in Pensacola, Florida, was charged with killing Billy back in April of 2019 in Free Soil Township, but the charges were dropped after key witness Katlin Buck refused to testify. Beekman was in an hour-and-a-half standoff with police following the shooting.

Denita says she was horrified when she found out the man charged with killing her son was honored as they continue to fight for justice for Billy. She said Gaetz’s office told her that Beekman and his father reached out to them for the recognition.

Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole was repulsed at the notion that Beekman was honored at an official congressional meeting.

“There are certainly people much more deserving to represent our military veterans at the U.S. Capitol than Corey Beekman, a murderer,” Sheriff Kim Cole said. “I am disappointed in Rep. Gaetz’s office. A simple Google search would have shown that Mr. Beekman killed a man in rural Mason County.” 

Cole was recently in Washington, D.C. attending the State of the Union address as a guest of Rep. John Moolenar. “When I was in Washington, I was hoping I would get a chance to see Rep. Gaetz and personally express my dissatisfaction to him about this situation. Unfortunately that did not happen but I did send an email to his office.” 

William, senior, and Denita Buchanan

The grieving mother was touched by Gaetz’s written apology, which she received in the mail Thursday, Feb. 9. “Please accept my most sincere apologies for the pain I have caused your family,” he writes. “Upon your request, I present you with this flag flown over the US Capitol in loving memory of your son. Billy was a hero, and we honor him today with this flag.”

Billy’s heroic efforts the day of the shooting may have saved the lives of two young girls and possibly their mother, Kaitlin Buck, she said. “The police (told) us he was a hero, because he saved those little girls by telling them to say put. Our son was a hero — he saved two little girls.”

The family plans to give the flag to Billy’s 18-year-old son, William Buchanan III. 

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