A quest to find answers in the death of an 18-year-old Sebastopol man who died at a Peruvian jungle retreat center took a new turn Monday after his father raised more than $8,000 to bring his son's body home for an autopsy.
Kyle Josef Nolan died in late August while participating in an "ayahuasca ritual" after taking a psychoactive concoction used by Amazonian people for centuries.
The shaman, Jose Manuel Pineda, admitted to burying Nolan's body after he died during a hallucinogenic session, according to Peruvian news accounts.
Pineda and two workers at the Shimbre Shamanic Center near Puerto Maldonado were arrested on charges of homicide and illegally burying a body, according to Nolan's family.
An autopsy was conducted in Peru and yielded no cause of death. Toxicology results, which could help pinpoint the cause of Nolan's death, are pending.
But Kyle's father, Sean Nolan of Petaluma, said Monday. "I believe my son was murdered because people don't die from ingesting ayahuasca."
"My son was 18 and in perfect health," he said, adding that further medical examination could help discover the truth.
Nolan was able to raise more than $8,300 on the website www.fundly.com, which helps raise money for charities, nonprofit and individual causes.
More than 80 people donated to help bring home the young man's body to be examined and buried.
Kyle Nolan's mother, Ingeborg Oswald of Sebastopol, had made plans to cremate the body in Peru.
"An autopsy was done. It will take anywhere from one to three months to get the results back," she said. "I don't know really what a second autopsy will tell us."
But she said she won't stand in the way of her ex-husband's wish to bring the body back, now that he has raised a significant amount, if not all, of the money needed.
"I want him (Kyle) back and just want this to be over with," she said.
Nolan, a 2011 graduate of Analy High School, had attended Santa Rosa Junior College and worked odd jobs but took time off to go to Peru and engage in the 10-day shamanic retreat.
"He was trying to find his path in life, that's why he went there," said his mother, a veterinarian in Rohnert Park.
She said she tried to dissuade him from going.
Oswald dismissed reports in the Peruvian media that her son was drug-addicted, a lie she said was perpetuated by one of the two accomplices who were arrested along with the shaman in the death cover-up.
She said her son stopped taking dairy, sugar and spicy food in preparation for the ayahuasca ritual and even stopped taking his prescribed acne medicine.
"It was his first trip anywhere alone. He was a totally naive child. He didn't even know Spanish. He was a babe in the woods," she said.
Sean Nolan said all possibilities should be considered as a cause of death, including sexual assault.
"I want to find out what happened," he said.
He said a pathologist with the Sonoma County Coroner's Office has agreed to do the autopsy, although that examiner could not be reached for comment Monday.
Oswald said she doesn't know what killed her son, who apparently took the same ayahuasca others had taken without fatal effects in the same ceremony.