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Crime

Drowning Victim's Mom Says Son-in-Law Is to Blame — with Crucial Organ Missing During Autopsy

Blaise Gamba/Facebook

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On Nov. 13, 2016, not knowing she was about to die, Blaise Gamba went on a boating trip with her husband, William Gamba. At some point during the trip off of Madeira Beach, Florida, the 37-year-old woman drowned.

But Blaise’s mother thinks it was no accident and has filed a lawsuit accusing William of intentionally drowning his wife and covering up what happened. His attorney reportedly dismissed such accusations as shocking and untrue.

The suit, obtained by PEOPLE, claims that William wanted to cash in on his wife’s $1 million life insurance policies and their joint assets, including a waterfront mansion worth $1.5 million.

According to an incident report from 2016, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office originally classified Blaise’s death as a diving accident. The medical examiner’s office determined that her cause of death was drowning.

William allegedly told an investigator that he had been scuba diving while his wife snorkeled, the incident report states. He said he noticed her “making unusual jerking movements.”

Then, according to the report, he said that she stopped moving. He allegedly swam to her and pulled her onto the boat.

William also told police that his wife was coughing when he pulled her out of the water, but she soon stopped. He flagged down another boater for help. While he performed CPR on Blaise, the other boater called authorities for help.

But questions have remained in the case ever since.

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Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told the Tampa Bay Times this week that homicide detectives are still investigating.

“We are conducting a criminal investigation based upon the circumstances,” Gualtieri told the newspaper. “He [William] is certainly somebody that we are looking at.”

Lawyers for Blaise’s mother, Nancy Huhta, allege that her husband pulled her under water and held her there until he thought she had drowned.

The lawsuit contends that WIlliam, 39, was “unusually interested” in donating her organs, including her lungs. According to the medical examiner, her lungs were missing during the autopsy — and the conclusion that she drowned came from the circumstances of her death, not from medical evidence.

The lawsuit also alleges that William’s actions after his wife’s death were “highly inconsistent with those of someone who was mourning the loss of a spouse.” He stopped wearing his wedding ring and had it appraised for sale, his mother-in-law’s suit claims, and he called Blaise’s job to ask when he would receive her final paycheck and life insurance payout.

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William’s defense lawyer, Lucas Fleming, did not immediately return PEOPLE’s call for comment, but he told the Times that his client denies the lawsuit’s allegations and maintains his wife’s death was an accident.

“He’s shocked and speechless because of what we believe are inaccurate claims made in the complaint,” Fleming told the paper.

After the drowning, William moved to California where he works as a chief nursing officer at a hospital. Blaise was a business litigation lawyer.

Lawyers for Huhta did not immediately return PEOPLE’s call for comment. They are seeking “everything that the law allows” in damages.

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