Shoddy investigations by NC medical examiners leave families in pain

May 17, 2014 

ME_Kathy Wilson_1

Kathy Wilson had to pay to have her husband Jim’s body exhumed because the medical examiner made the wrong ruling in his death. An autopsy showed James Wilson died of injuries sustained in a car wreck -- not of a heart attack. The distinction was important because his insurance policies didn't pay in case of a natural death.

JEFF WILLHELM — jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com Buy Photo

Medical examiners in North Carolina often fail to follow crucial investigative steps, raising questions about thousands of death rulings, a Charlotte Observer investigation has found.

The living face the consequences of those failures. Widows can be cheated out of insurance money. Families may never learn why their loved ones died. Killers can go free.

“Fatally Flawed” is a five-part series on the Observer’s investigation, which began in 2012. In today’s first installment, Observer reporters describe how the system is supposed to work, where it goes wrong, and how some people’s lives have been affected.

Read today’s story and see videos, profiles, data and other extras.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service