Tag Archives: St Louis County

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.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

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!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Army Special Forces Veteran Shares Something in Common With North Saint Louis County Residents Facing Fines

To those people who think it’s a stretch to compare turmoil in the lives of residents in and around Ferguson, Mo., to the turmoil that has permeated the life of a former Army Special Forces Soldier, I say, “YOU”RE WRONG!” Below, I explain why.

For many in North St. Louis County — an area that includes Ferguson, the town of 20,000 made famous by violent protests that followed the officer-involved shooting death of 18-year-old Mike Brown in August — anger has festered over an issue unrelated to Brown far longer than it has over the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for killing Brown. The anger stems from being on the receiving end of warrants — in some municipalities, the average number was five warrants per year — one too many times. In some case, fines and court costs that result from appearing in municipal court to deal with those warrants total hundreds of dollars, according to Radley Balko’s Washington Post report published Sept. 3. That leaves those people facing difficult decisions.

If they miss work in order to make their court appearances, they risk being fired from their jobs. Conversely, if they make their court appearances and pay the fines associated with their infractions (i.e., speeding tickets, moving violations and other infractions), they risk not being able to pay their monthly bills and/or feed their families. In the town of Pine Lawn, for instance, Balko reports the fines total $1.8 miilion or around $576 per resident, an amount equal to 4.5 percent of an average resident’s annual income!

Some will argue that the individuals stopped by police in North St. Louis County deserve the tickets they receive, and I’m sure some do. At the same time, however, I empathize with those people — and I think it’s a large population — who, when faced with making the difficult choice between paying the monthly bills and using the same money to pay off city-issued fines imposed by overzealous law enforcement agencies, opt against paying the fines and court costs.

Fortunately, one Missouri legislator, Sen. Eric Schmitt recently introduced a municipal court reform measure in an effort to reign in overzealous municipalities who are currently allowed to bring in up to 30 percent of revenues through traffic tickets. If the measure becomes law, the income threshold will drop to 10 percent.

“Where does the former Green Beret fit into this equation?” you ask. Allow me to explain.

Kelly Stewart & Toby Keith

After spending several years behind bars at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., as part of the sentence imposed on him following a two-day military trial during which he was tried and convicted on sexual assault charges, Kelly A. Stewart served his time, finished his parole and was trying to live his life as best he can with a “sex offender” label hanging over him while he ekes out a living from a job that pays barely $10 an hour. That’s when the former Green Beret medic received a letter, informing him that he owes the Army approximately $27,000 and much begin paying it back at the rate of $700 per month.

Obviously, someone who spent his life savings defending himself in court against false rape and kidnapping allegations levied against him by a then-28-year-old German woman — and former mental patient — can’t possibly afford to make remuneration of $700 per month. So what does he do?

Should he fail to make payments to the Army, the equivalent of a Ferguson resident failing to appear in municipal court to answer for an outstanding warrant, he faces the likelihood of returning to federal prison. It’s a lose-lose proposition, and Stewart doesn’t have a state senator writing legislation on his behalf. Instead, he needs the American people to learn about his case and make conscious decisions to help — quickly!

To learn more about his case, order a copy of my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August (October 2011), in which I chronicle this highly-decorated combat veteran’s rough encounter with the military justice system.

For a snapshot of his situation and how you can help, read this letter and/or read my recent article, HELP: Former Green Beret Faces Possible Return to Prison! Thanks in advance!

UPDATE 4/19/2015 at 1:16 p.m. Central: Check out the limited-time free-books offer here.

If you like this article and my other efforts, please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Bob McCarty Offers Weekly Recap: Nov. 29

The week of Thanksgiving began with a bang — or, more accurately, looting and mayhem in the city of Ferguson, Mo., following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision about the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown more than three months ago. Below, you’ll see several of my posts this week had ties to the aforementioned mayhem:

As I prepared to peel potatoes for our Thanksgiving meal Thursday, I felt like a Soldier put on KP duty -- then I realized I had been in the Air Force.

As I prepared to peel potatoes for our Thanksgiving meal Thursday, I felt like a Soldier put on KP duty — then I realized I had been in the Air Force. Click on the image above to see more photos of my Thanksgiving preparations.

Sunday, Nov. 23:  Guest writer Paul R. Hollrah shared his take on Ferguson in a piece published under the headline, Guest Writer Believes Race Relations Near Tipping Point.

Monday, Nov. 24: Not to be confused with the words coming out of the mouths of Al Sharpton and others provoking racial tensions in North St. Louis County, I asked readers to test their skills by playing, “Can You Spot the Liar?” Later that day, I shared the biggest news of the week, NO INDICTMENT OF OFFICER DARREN WILSON!, to which I would add 10 updates during the day.

Tuesday, Nov. 25: Five hours after going to bed at 2 a.m. Tuesday, I shared news about 25 structures burning down, thanks largely to the failures of Gov. Jay Nixon (D-Mo.) to manage the response to protests about the grand jury decision. Later that day, I broke the story about the owners of the Little Caesars Pizza shop in Ferguson suffering their third major disaster in four years. Soon after, I learned about a GoFundMe account being established to help them and their employees recover. After that, I contacted as many people as I could in the local and national media with details. Though the effort had raised more than $2,800 by noon today, it pales in comparison to the effort to help a cupcake shop owner in Ferguson whose business was damaged by the protests.

Wednesday, Nov. 26: Shifting my focus for a moment, I shared news related to Kelly A. Stewart, the former Army Green Beret whose life story is chronicled in my book, Three Days In August. That news came in the form of a piece written by Stewart’s father that appeared under the headline, Father Seeks Support for Wrongly-Convicted Soldier, Son.

Kelly A. Stewart's uniform was covered with signs of his life as a Top One Percent Special Forces Soldier.

Kelly A. Stewart’s uniform was covered with signs of his life as a Top One Percent Special Forces Soldier. Click image to read more posts about Stewart.

Thursday, Nov. 27: Thanksgiving Day seemed an appropriate occasion to Be Thankful for Those Serving Their Country, so I shared one photo of a Soldier working in a mess hall in preparation for the annual feast and pointed readers to my Facebook page to see more. I also helped cook up a feast and caught up on things with a friend who I had not seen in more than a dozen years. I also shared with my Facebook friends news that no riots had taken place to protest the fact that 981 black babies had been killed during abortions in Missouri since the day Brown was shot dead in Ferguson.

Friday, Nov. 28: During the day, I took a break from working to watch college football and spend time with the aforementioned friend. After he departed, my wife and I watched the movie, Chef. After that, we watched Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary, America: Imagine the World Without Her. If I had to recommend only one, it would be the documentary, and I’d make everyone I know watch it.

Saturday, Nov. 29:  Earlier today, I shared snippets from Three Days In August in my piece, Army Prosecutor Wanted Special Forces Soldier to Break Law, Discuss Classified Info in Open Court; He Refused.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

NO INDICTMENT OF OFFICER DARREN WILSON!

in the case of the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced at 8:20 p.m. Central that the 12 members of the grand jury could find no grounds upon which to issue a criminal indictment against 28-year-old police officer Darren Wilson. More details coming soon.

UPDATE #1 Nov. 24, 2014, at 8:31 p.m. Central:  USA TODAY

UPDATE #2 Nov. 24, 2014, at 8:35 p.m. Central:  St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s website overloaded (see pic below).

STLCOPA_website_timeout

UPDATE #3 Nov. 24, 2014, at 8:40 p.m. Central:  Item by item, Prosecuting Attorney McCulloch effectively shredded the case against Officer Wilson. Said he will release evidence after he finishes making announcement. Now, it’s going to be extremely interesting to see how members of the protest crowd react. Praying all involved use wisdom and common sense.

UPDATE #4 Nov. 24, 2014, at 8:55 p.m. Central:  Prosecuting Attorney McCulloch refuses to fall for slew of loaded questions from reporters appearing to be agenda-driven. Said federal investigation ongoing. Said several alleged witnesses disappeared and could not be located for questioning.

UPDATE #5 Nov. 24, 2014, at 8:58 p.m. Central:  Prosecuting Attorney McCulloch showed empathy toward parents of Michael Brown Jr., but said the fact that the case involved a justifiable use of self-defense does not lessen the fact that a tragedy took place.

UPDATE #6 Nov. 24, 2014, at 9:02 p.m. Central:  Parents of Michael Brown Jr. issues statement, saying, they are “profoundly disappointed” Officer Wilson won’t face charges.

UPDATE #7 Nov. 24, 2014, at 9:09 p.m. Central:  Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge on Monday categorized a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to criminally charge the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown “a slap in the face” that underscores “an unwritten rule that Black lives hold no value.”

UPDATE #8 Nov. 24, 2014, at 9:19 p.m. Central:  While watching Obama speak, I see on Fox2Now.com that protesters are trying to flip a police car as tear gas is deployed (See pic below).

Obama_Riots_PhotoUPDATE #9 Nov. 24, 2014, at 9:35 p.m. Central:  1st District U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) playing race card. In reference to federal investigation, says matter isn’t over.

UPDATE #10 Nov. 25, 2014, at 1:55 a.m. Central:  Unified Command officials just wrapped up a 20-minute press conference in Ferguson.  St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar described events in general terms before admitting that he and Missouri State Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson never expected things to be so violent and destructive. After saying how disappointed he is about the fabric of the community being torn apart, he noted the “good news” — no one had been killed. Captain Johnson followed by reiterating the disappointment factor and how damaging the evening has been to the community and the region. In response to questions from reporters, Chief Belmar said something that stumped me — he thought they had “a good plan” to deal with the protests.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.