Terri Schiavo Autopsy Results Two to Three Weeks Away

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 10, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Terri Schiavo Autopsy Results Two to Three Weeks Away Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 10, 2005

Clearwater, FL (LifeNews.com) — The autopsy results on Terri Schiavo are two to three weeks away, according to the local medical examiner charged with the task of determining her cause of death. The disabled woman died after a painful 13-day starvation and dehydration death that generated worldwide controversy.

Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin has been working on Terri’s autopsy for the last month and he says he needs two to three more weeks to complete it.

Until then, he won’t talk about the work in progress.

He will say, however, that he has received hundreds of letters and emails related to Terri.

"I get e-mails that say, ‘Please be thorough, please be thorough, please be thorough,’ he told the St. Petersburg Times newspaper. "Then in the next paragraph, they say, ‘Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, why aren’t you done yet?’"

Many of the letters hope Thogmartin will uncover proof that her estranged husband Michael physically abused Terri, causing her 1990 collapse. Others want him to prove Michael’s contention she was in a PVS state.

"They are of no consequence to me," he told the Times about the letters.

Thogmartin admitted the work is difficult and that the case was not routine.

"This is a case that as far as the pathology goes is fairly routine," he said. "But there is all this ancillary stuff and the problem is the time delay. You have a 15-year delay between the incident (when Schiavo collapsed and her brain was deprived of oxygen) and the time of death."

He says the work related to her has consumed his time and taken over his office as boxes of slides and paperwork appear frequently.

In his stacks of papers is a request from Terri’s family to allow their own pathologists to observe the autopsy. Thogmartin refused the request.

"It is routine in cases of criminal importance to not allow any biased pathology advocates in the morgue," he said. "I’m the independent pathologist."

Thogmartin told the Times he’s not worried about the backlash — regardless of the conclusions he reaches.

"Basically it means that as long as you’re being honest, you can’t be wrong. You have to call it as you see it and let the fallout come," he said.