Portland, OR – David Oliver Relin, co-author of the bestselling book Three Cups of Tea, has died at 49, authorities said.
Relin committed suicide in the town of Corbett on November 15, deputy Multonamah County medical examiner Peter Bellant said Sunday night. Bellant said Relin died of blunt force head trauma but did not provide further details.
Relin co-wrote Three Cups of Tea with Greg Mortenson, and the book recounts how Mortenson started building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Last year, 60 Minutes and Jon Krakauer, author of Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, alleged that the book contained numerous fabrications.
Four people who bought the book filed a lawsuit against the authors, but US District Judge Sam Haddon dismissed claims that Mortenson and Relin, as well as their publisher and a charity, conspired to make Mortenson a false hero and raise money for the charity. Haddon said the claims were overly broad, flimsy, and speculative.
Mortenson did acknowledge that some of the events in the novel were compressed over different periods of time, but denied any wrongdoing.
Relin’s family said he suffered from depression, which caused him to take his own life. After the allegations about the validity of the book, Relin suffered emotionally and financially.
The agent for Three Cups of Tea, Elizabeth Kaplan, said the relationship between Relin and Mortenson was difficult from the beginning, as Mortenson was often difficult to track down while he was traveling. Relin didn’t feel Mortenson should have been named a co-author and spoke publicly about his thoughts. The book still went on to be a success and sold more than four million copies since its 2006 release.