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Widow healing through art as investigators reexamine Nick Clavier’s death

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The family of a Chesterfield man fatally shot while driving with his children says, his firearm is now being retested according to federal investigators.

Nick Clavier died from a gunshot wound to the head that he suffered while driving his four kids on a fishing trip October 24, 2015.

“They initially had said there's a possibility that somehow his gun could've fired the bullet,” said Nick’s widow Melody Clavier. “Obviously, that is not the way it appears, so they are running tests on the firearm.”

Nick and Mikayla Clavier

“It's still being reviewed, the FBI is assisting in the review, but Chesterfield does have the lead," said Melody. "At this point, they're just still looking into all the tests and everything, kind of repeating a few things, just to make sure there's no error. So at this point it’s just a waiting game.”

Melody said Nick’s firearm has been in evidence. It has been part of a cleared case that got a second look and involvement from the FBI after a months-long investigation by CBS 6 reporter Laura French.

“The ballistics came back that the bullet that was recovered from his brain, there was no way possible that it could've been fired from his gun.  The bullet they found was a much larger size than what could fit into his firearm,” said Melody.

Melody Clavier

French exclusively reported in May, Nick’s family requested his death investigation be reopened after a ballistics report showed the bullet recovered from his brain did not match the gun that was recovered from his vehicle.  The case was changed from cleared to pending May 23.

Nick and Melody’s daughter Mikayla, who was nine years old at the time, was in the front seat when the car crashed into a tree along the 8700 block of Hull Street Road.

Mikayla, now 11 years old, said her father was shot after she says a vehicle pulled up next to them.

Mikayla drew a sketch of a car she said she saw pull away after her dad was shot.

Mikayla drew a sketch of a car she said she saw pull away after her dad was shot.

“I saw the guy pointing a gun and I saw the car but didn't catch the license plate,” Mikayla said in a May interview with CBS 6. "I heard the big noise. I looked over and saw my dad. He was bleeding and blood was going everywhere.”

Mikayla ran to a nearby church to get her and her three siblings help. Multiple people who cared for the kids that day reached out to French after seeing her report.

They claim the kids were screaming for help and explained that someone shot their father.

Clavier family

One of those women says she provided detectives with details from that day after she came to the children's aid.

All four children were re-interviewed in July at the Child Advocacy Center in Henrico County.

“I told them I know it wasn't an accident,” said Mikayla Clavier. “I’ve come a long way. I’m a lot more happier. Now I know that somebody hears what I’m saying and are trying to do something about it.”

“It was good for the children to be able to tell their story.  It was a little painful, it was hard especially for the younger ones who maybe hadn’t expressed as regularly as Mikayla had,” said Melody. "It was a tough day, but there was a really amazing group of people working with them. I don't think it could've gone any better.”

Melody said that she thinks investigators were able to gather some good information from her children’s interviews.

Mikayla Clavier

“Obviously emotions still get a little high when you talk about that day, but they weren't in a state of shock, so I feel the conversations were probably more beneficial,” Melody said. “The opportunity for them to be to be able to express all the things that had been going through their head and the memories that played over and over for them I think it's really a big deal.”

As the two year anniversary approaches, Melody is channeling her grief by leading a monthly “Healing Grief Through Art” support group.

“I’m hoping that it will help other families who've been through loss like we have to find ways to help cope and remember those lost in a positive light,” Melody said.

The group will meet the last Wednesday of each month beginning September 27.  Melody says their first activity will be memory beads. For more information visit the Healing Grief Through Art Facebook group.

“When you have an unexpected death it causes pain in every shape and form,” Melody said. “You can either let it destroy you, or you can let it form you into something better, something that can help others who have gone through the same thing as you have. It's easy to say well life is unfair, or you can say you know what, this is the hand I’ve been dealt and I’m going to do the very best with it that I can.”

Meanwhile, Melody urges anyone with information to come forward.

“I’ll be thrilled if any answers are to come, but what was most important to us was to be heard and for Mikayla to be validated and what she saw with her eyes to be able to know that someone believed her.  So, even if nothing comes of it, the greatest has been done, but I would be thrilled if someone could be brought to justice for this,” she said.

CBS 6 reached out to the Chesterfield Police Department. A spokesperson said, “the investigation is ongoing.”

If you have a tip to share with police, about the death of Nick Clavier, call Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.

CBS 6 News is working for you. Click here to email a tip to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers. Be sure to leave us your name, phone number and detailed description of the problem. You can also leave a message by calling 804-254-3672.