Tag Archives: autopsy

Medical Examiner Says Tom Schweich Autopsy ‘Complete’; UPDATE–Clayton Police Chief Says Investigation ‘Not Closed’

Dr. Mary E. Case, St. Louis County’s chief medical examiner, told me today her agency’s autopsy on Tom Schweich, the second-term Missouri state auditor who had recently launched his Republican campaign for governor, “is complete.” Based on a separate communication I had with a member of her staff, I suspect the autopsy findings will be released tomorrow. UPDATE RECEIVED TODAY at 4:28 p.m. Central:  Clayton (Mo.) Police Chief Kevin Murphy sent me a message in which he said, “Currently, the investigation is not closed.”

Reply from Dr. Mary E. Case 4-6-15

The news from Dr. Case arrived in the form of answers to seven questions — and they arrived exactly two minutes after I had published today’s first update to my Friday piece related to the autopsy findings on Schweich. My questions (Q1 through Q7) appear below, followed by Dr. Case’s answers (A1 through A7) and, as necessary, my comments in italics after four of the answers:

Q1. How long does your average autopsy take when it involves what law enforcement officials initially suspect is a self-inflicted gunshot wound?

A1. The average autopsy with toxicology takes 4 to 6 weeks to complete.

Q2. On average, how many autopsies do you perform annually on individuals in cases law enforcement officials initially suspected involved self-inflicted gunshot wounds?

A2. We probably do about 50 or more GSW (i.e., gunshot wound) suicides/year.

Q3. Have you completed the autopsy on Mr. Schweich’s body?

A3. The autopsy is complete.

Q4. Please describe the tests you performed on Mr. Schweich’s body.

A4. We did complete toxicology testing. Interestingly, Dr. Case does not mention any other types of testing, such as gunshot residue testing. That’s probably a police matter anyway. Any cops out there want to answer that question for me? If so, leave a reply in the comments section below.

Q5. Why is it taking so long for the findings to be released?

A5. We do not announce the findings of autopsies. If you wish to have a copy, you may request it.

In response to Dr. Case’s reply to Q5, I sent the following message:  “Thank you for your reply.  Please consider this a request. Can you email it to me?” Twenty-six minutes later, I received a response from Kathy Sparks, an office services specialist in the ME’s office. Sparks wrote:  “Per Suzanne McCune- Forensic Administrator; this case is currently on hold, you may contact Suzanne on Tuesday 04/07/2015 at 314-615-0801. Thanks for your patience.” Does that mean there is going to be a public announcement of some sort? Methinks there might be, but Dr. Case does not. In a separate email exchange, I asked her if she knew of any such announcement forthcoming, and she replied, “I do not know anything about such an announcement.”

Q6. Have you set a date on which you plan to release the findings? If not, why not?

A6. See A5 — and, especially, my comment that follows it!

Q7. Were you the only medical examiner to perform an autopsy on Mr. Schweich’s body?

A7. I did not personally do the autopsy. This response prompts at least one additional question:  “Was the autopsy conducted by someone within your office or by someone outside of your office?” I forwarded that question to Dr. Case. A few minutes later, she replied, writing, “The autopsy was done by Dr Kamal Sabharwal who is an assistant medical examiner in this office and he was on call that day for cases.”

One person who has not responded to the single question I asked of him two times today — at 10:42 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. — was Clayton Police Chief Kevin R. Murphy. I suspect he knew the answer when I asked him Friday whether the investigation into Schweich’s death is ongoing or has been closed. Why? Because I suspect he knew the autopsy had been completed by then. Rather than come out and say it, however, he decided to wiggle around the answer in his reply to me, the full length of which appears below and in my Friday piece:

An autopsy was conducted on the morning of the 27th, at 0730.  I didn’t say the results would be available then.  I believe we are waiting on the completed, written, autopsy report.  In any event, only the Medical Examiner’s Office can release an autopsy report.  We are not authorized to make a secondary release of the information.

Having spent years in politics and public relations, I recognize “I believe” and “In any event” as defensible words — the kind politicians and PR folks use when they know they might need to wiggle out of a statement at some future date.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for the next update!

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Quest Continues for Tom Schweich Autopsy Findings

My search for answers to questions about the death of Tom Schweich continues three days after I published a piece in which I raised the question, Is Investigative Journalism Dead in Missouri?

Click on image above to read article.

Click on image above to read article published Friday.

The headline of that piece reflects my disdain for St. Louis-area journalists and their collective failure to exhibit even the slightest bit of curiosity about the findings of the autopsy performed on the body of the second-term Missouri state auditor and declared Republican candidate for governor. After all, it’s not every day when an ambitious 54-year-old schedules a media interview one minute and, minutes later, reportedly shoots himself in the head inside his home.

On top of that, the likelihood that Schweich’s 44-year-old official spokesperson, Robert “Spence” Jackson, would reportedly use the same means to take his own life 30 days later seems ridiculously small. That’s why I’m pursuing answers today. And so I continue.

In response to the inquiry highlighted in Update #2 of my aforementioned article, I received a reply at 9:02 a.m. today from Communications Coordinator Allison Blood at the St. Louis County Media Center. She directed me to contact the medical examiner’s office. In turn, I sent the following message to Dr. Mary E. Case, St. Louis County’s chief medical examiner, 28 minutes later:

Dear Dr. Case:

I am an author and freelance investigative reporter and have contacted both Chief Kevin Murphy (Clayton PD) and the folks at the St. Louis County Media Center. Both referred me to you.

Your findings from the autopsy of the late Thomas A. “Tom” Schweich are, as I’m sure you’re aware, of great public interest — especially after his spokesperson, Robert “Spence” Jackson, reportedly died in a similar manner one month later in Jefferson City. Related to your work, I have several questions:

1. How long does your average autopsy take when it involves what law enforcement officials initially suspect is a self-inflicted gunshot wound?

2. On average, how many autopsies do you perform annually on individuals in cases law enforcement officials initially suspected involved self-inflicted gunshot wounds?

3. Have you completed the autopsy on Mr. Schweich’s body?

4. Please describe the tests you performed on Mr. Schweich’s body.

5. Why is it taking so long for the findings to be released?

6. Have you set a date on which you plan to release the findings? If not, why not?

7. Were you the only medical examiner to perform an autopsy on Mr. Schweich’s body?

Depending upon your responses to the questions above, I might have follow-up questions.

Thanks in advance for your prompt reply as I would like to complete this story within 48 hours.

Mind you, I haven’t drawn any conclusions yet. Instead, I’m merely applying the same investigative skills that earned me accolades from David P. Schippers, the U.S. House of Representatives chief investigative counsel during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. After reading my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo, he described my work as “perhaps the most thorough investigative reporting I have encountered in years.”

Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

UPDATE 4/6/2015 at 1:47 p.m. Central:  Incredible! Two minutes after I published this piece, I received a reply from Dr. Case. Details soon!

UPDATE #1 4/6/2015 at 3:56 p.m. Central:  BREAKING NEWS! EXCLUSIVE! Medical Examiner Says Tom Schweich Autopsy ‘Complete’.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

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Is Investigative Journalism Dead in Missouri?

Thirty-six days have passed and the findings of any autopsy performed on the body of the late Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich remain a mystery to the general public. On top of that, members of the St. Louis journalism community appear to have little or no interest in obtaining the autopsy findings. Is investigative journalism dead in Missouri?

Schweich_and_Jackson

To date, I’ve found no evidence that any government agency in the state of Missouri — not the Clayton Police Department whose officers responded to Schweich’s Clayton home after receiving a 911 call, not the St. Louis County Medical Examiner and not the Missouri State Highway Patrol — has released any findings from the Scweich autopsy. Likewise, I’ve found no evidence of any St. Louis-area news organizations expressing much interest in such findings.

Am I An Odd Duck? Maybe.

Maybe I’m an odd duck, but it strikes me that there is a compelling public interest in knowing whether or not Schweich, a hard-hitting state auditor who had recently launched his campaign for governor, actually took his own life at 54 or was assisted in that endeavor. And one would think that journalists in the same state as the University of Missouri School of Journalism, one of the nation’s premier training grounds for journalists, would pursue this subject aggressively. But they’re not.

Am I Callous and Inconsiderate?

Some who read this will accuse me of being callous and inconsiderate by trampling in an area where no one should go. I beg to differ.

For weeks after Schweich’s death, I resisted the urge to go there and decided to let the wheels of justice turn. I was certain the autopsy findings would be released. After all, according to a KOMU-TV report on the day of Schweich’s death, Clayton Police Chief Kevin Murphy said autopsy findings would be made available at 7:30 a.m. the next day. Instead, 30 days passed without any findings being made public, and tragedy struck again.

Sometime between Feb. 27 and Feb. 29, according to published reports like this one, Schweich spokesperson Spence Jackson, 44, allegedly used the same method as Schweich — a single gunshot wound to the head — to take his own life. Unlike Schweich, who some claim was distraught over an alleged “whisper campaign” about his faith, Jackson was reportedly distraught over the prospect of being unemployed again. As a man who’s had many different jobs over his lifetime, including managing back-to-back congressional campaigns, I find neither of the alleged reasons behind the alleged suicides plausible.

Let’s Play “What If?”

What if a certain someone(s) feared Schweich’s team of auditors might uncover evidence of serious wrongdoing? According to the Audits in Progress section of the Missouri State Auditor’s website, Schweich’s auditors were conducting audits on dozens of organizations, including the Missouri Governor’s Office, the Missouri State Lottery Commission, the Missouri Department of Revenue and the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Use of State Data.

Today, I decided to start doing the job members of the St. Louis-area news media have thusfar failed to do. As Step One, I sent an email message to Clayton, Mo., Police Chief Kevin Murphy at 9:18 a.m. After identifying myself as an author and freelance investigative reporter, I got straight to the point with the man whose officers are in charge of the Schweich investigation:

According to this article, you were quoted as saying autopsy results on the body of the late Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich would be made available at 7:30 a.m. Friday (Feb. 27, 2015). Were the autopsy results ever released?

If so, I would like to obtain a copy of whatever information your agency released.

If not, why not?

I closed the message by thanking him in advance for his prompt reply. Now, I will give Chief Murphy a few days to get back to me. It is, after all, a holiday weekend.

Be sure to check back often as I will provide updates as they become available.

UPDATE 4/03/2015 at 12:07 p.m. Central:  At 11:59 a.m., I received a reply from Chief Murphy at the Clayton Police Department. He wrote:

Mr. McCarty,

An autopsy was conducted on the morning of the 27th, at 0730.  I didn’t say the results would be available then.  I believe we are waiting on the completed, written, autopsy report.  In any event, only the Medical Examiner’s Office can release an autopsy report.  We are not authorized to make a secondary release of the information.

The autopsy was conducted by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office.  They can be contacted, as follows:

St Louis County Medical Examiner
Address:  6059 Helen Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63134
Phone:  (314) 615-0800

Sincerely,

Kevin R. Murphy
Chief of Police

Now, my next step will be to call the medical examiner’s office. Stay tuned!

UPDATE #2 4/03/2015 at 12:32 p.m. Central:  Moments ago, I used the CONTACT US tool to send the following request to the media folks at the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office:

In an email this morning, I asked Chief Kevin R. Murphy of the Clayton, MO., Police Department if he could provide me a copy of the autopsy report containing the findings from the autopsy performed on the body of the late Missouri State Auditor Thomas Schweich. In reply, he wrote the following:

“An autopsy was conducted on the morning of the 27th, at 0730.  I didn’t say the results would be available then.  I believe we are waiting on the completed, written, autopsy report.  In any event, only the Medical Examiner’s Office can release an autopsy report.  We are not authorized to make a secondary release of the information. The autopsy was conducted by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office.”

Now, because of the immense public interest in Mr. Schweich’s death, I would like to request a copy of the report or a summary of the findings of that report.

Please advise ASAP as to whether you will be able to provide the information. Thanks!

Now, again, we wait. Stay tuned for the next update.

UPDATE #3 4/06/2015 at 1:35 p.m. Central:  Read the latest update in a new piece published moments ago.

UPDATE #4 4/6/2015 at 3:57 p.m. Central:  BREAKING NEWS! EXCLUSIVE! Medical Examiner Says Tom Schweich Autopsy ‘Complete’.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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Guest Writer Believes Race Relations Near Tipping Point

EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is a guest post by Paul R. Hollrah, a resident of Oklahoma who writes from the perspective of a veteran conservative politico who served two terms as a member of the Electoral College. Even if you disagree with him, this piece will make you think long and hard.

My eighty-first birthday earlier this week was to have been a happy occasion, featuring a great dinner with friends at Tulsa’s finest German restaurant and many cards and letters from far-flung children and grandchildren. But a late email printout detailing events in Geneva, Switzerland, took a bit of the luster off the day.

Click to view full document (PDF) submitted to UN Committee Against Torture.

Click to view full document (PDF) submitted to UN Committee Against Torture.

The email I received was a copy of a 13-page document titled, United States Compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment. It was subtitled, Written Statement on the Police Shooting of Michael Brown and Ensuing Police Violence Against Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. The document was filed with the 53rd Session of the United Nations Committee Against Torture, meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, from Nov. 3-28, 2014, after being delivered to Geneva by Michael Brown’s parents, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden.

The cover page of the complaint asserts that the complaint was submitted by the Brown family, who hand-delivered it to Geneva, as well as organizations called HandsUpUnited, Organization for Black Struggle, and Missourians Organized for Reform and Empowerment.

In a CNN interview, Brown’s mother insisted that, “We need the world to know what’s going on in Ferguson and we need justice… We need answers and we need action. And we have to bring it to the U.N. so they can expose it to the rest of the world, what’s going on in small town Ferguson.”

But, all emotion aside, what are the facts? We know that, on Aug. 9, 2014, Michael Brown Jr. a 6 ft. 4 in. 292 lb. black teenager, was identified on videotape as the individual who engaged in the robbery of a convenience store in Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. In the video, Brown is seen taking a box of Swisher Sweets cigars (valued at approximately $49) from the checkout counter of the convenience store, a 2nd degree theft under Missouri law.

As he and a friend prepared to exit the store, Brown is challenged by a store employee who attempted to lock the door before the two could leave the premises. However, Brown prevented the clerk from locking the door and as he and his accomplice walked out the door, he grabbed the store clerk by the lapels and shoved him backward into a display rack. And when the store clerk continued to protest, Brown turned and approached him in a threatening manner.

Minutes later, Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, a fugitive from justice on a theft charge from Jefferson City, Mo., were seen walking defiantly down the middle of a street near the convenience store they’d just robbed. Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, on routine patrol, arrived on the scene and instructed Brown and Johnson to “get the [expletive] off the street.”

At that point, one must assume that Brown, having just robbed a convenience store and assaulted a store clerk, feared that he was about to be taken into custody in connection with the robbery he’d committed just minutes before. With that thought in mind, he decided that he would not allow himself to be arrested and taken into custody, with a potential jail term to follow. Instead, when Officer Wilson prepared to exit his police cruiser, Brown attacked him and forced him back into the vehicle. Having been physically assaulted by a young man, much younger and stronger than himself, Officer Wilson was then justified in the use of deadly force. However, as the officer prepared to unholster his sidearm while seated inside his vehicle, Brown reached through the open window and attempted to wrest the weapon from the officer’s hand. A struggle ensured during which two shots were fired, one of them striking Brown in the wrist.

According to Officer Wilson and several eye witnesses, Wilson then exited his vehicle and attempted to take Brown into custody. At which time Brown, who had been walking away from the scene, turned and charged the officer. Certain that he could not survive an attack by a man 6 ft. 4 in. tall and weighing nearly 300 lb., the officer fired four additional shots before Brown dropped to the pavement.

But this is not the story that Brown’s fugitive friend told police and the media. According to his version, Brown was walking toward the officer with his hands in the air, attempting to surrender. An autopsy showed that Brown had been shot six times in the front of his body. What is not clear is the source of the unsubstantiated charge that Brown was shot in the back.

Nor is it the story that Brown’s parents told in their testimony before the U.N. committee in Geneva. According to their account, “Midday on August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black male, was walking down a small street in the middle of an apartment complex with a friend when they were approached by a white police officer. According to his friend, the closest witness to the afternoon’s events, the officer approached them in his SUV police vehicle, told them to ‘get the [expletive] off the sidewalk,’ which then escalated into a confrontation. After a struggle, the officer began to shoot the teen. Brown ran away, as he was hit by the officer’s bullets. The officer chased the teen on foot, and according to multiple witnesses, even after Michael Brown raised his hands to surrender and begged the officer not to shoot, the officer continued to fire. No witness reported any orders given to Brown as these shots were fired.”

Nowhere in their testimony is there a hint that Brown and his friend had just committed a strong-arm robbery of a business establishment. Nowhere in their testimony do they speculate about their son’s state of mind… how he may have concluded that he and his friend were about to be arrested as suspects in a felony crime and, in an effort to avoid arrest, attacked and wounded a police officer. Nowhere in their testimony do they mention that their son was first shot in a struggle over the police officer’s handgun. Nowhere in their testimony do they mention that their son’s friend, Dorian Johnson, himself a fugitive from justice, may not be a credible witness. And nowhere in their testimony do they suggest that the officer told the boys to “get the [expletive] off the street.” Instead, they testified that the officer told the boys to “get the [expletive] off the sidewalk.”

The Browns testified that, “The teenager was hit by at least six shots, according to an autopsy performed by a pathologist not affiliated with the government. The autopsy further revealed that the final shots included one that entered his eye, and another at the top of the head, which may have indicated his head was lowered as he collapsed or kneeled to surrender. The intentional, arbitrary killing of Michael Brown, shot to death by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, amounts to torture under Article I of the Convention.”

Was the pathologist “not affiliated with the government,” an expert hired by the Brown family, a credible witness? And is it even within the realm of possibility that an experienced police officer would “execute” a teenager, in cold-blood, in broad daylight, as he knelt to surrender? Is it not more reasonable to conclude that Brown was shot in the top of his head at close range as he lowered his head to charge the officer?

But now the nation is threatened with a massive outbreak of violence if the St. Louis County grand jury refuses to indict Officer Wilson. The demonstrations and rioting that have followed the shooting are a blot on the black community. And if the grand jury concludes that Officer Wilson acted in self-defense, which they likely will, we can expect unprecedented violence in the streets where the black community in and around St. Louis will loot neighborhood business establishments and burn many homes to the ground.

Brown’s mother told a CNN reporter in an interview, “We need the world to know what’s going on in Ferguson and we need justice… We need answers and we need action.”

Justice? Answers? Action? These are not what the professional race hustlers want. What they want is revenge, not justice. Nor are they going to like the answers they’re likely to get from the St. Louis County grand jury. And while the “action” they want is the indictment of Officer Wilson, the only “action” they will get is a lot of grief raining down on the heads of black people across the country as they loot and burn many of the businesses where they work, and burn their own neighborhoods to the ground.

And while we can all empathize with the Brown family for the loss of a son, Brown’s parents should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be so blatantly used and taken advantage of by professional race agitators, the attorney general of the United States included. But then, it’s not every day they’re treated to an all-expense-paid trip to Geneva.

If black people across the country are looking for something on which they can vent their anger and outrage, the killing of Michael Brown is a very poor choice. They would be better advised to take a closer look at Barack Obama’s Chicago, where black-on-black murders spiked to 516 in 2012, the second time homicides have surpassed 500 since 2003.

And they might want to take a closer look at white liberals and Democrats who have raised their expectations to the skies and then did nothing of substance to help them achieve the promised social and economic progress.

At this writing, the St. Louis County grand jury has not handed down either an indictment of Officer Wilson, or a finding of self-defense. And while it is understandable that members of the grand jury, whose names and home addresses are almost certainly known throughout the black community, are afraid to hand down a ruling that would exonerate Officer Wilson, the obvious jury nullification debacle of the O.J. Simpson trial and the violence that occurred in South Los Angeles in the wake of the Rodney King police beating is still far too fresh in the minds of the American people. We are at a tipping point in race relations and we should all be very afraid.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

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