Crime

May 18, 2014

Medical examiners’ failure to examine bodies raises questions about rulings on cause of death

North Carolina medical examiners have issued thousands of rulings about how people died without ever viewing their bodies. Consequences are many — including homicides that are ruled as suicides.

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 second installment, Observer reporters describe the problems that arise when medical examiners make rulings on cause of death without ever viewing the bodies — including homicides that are ruled as suicides.

Read today’s story and see videos, profiles, data and other extras, plus the first story in the series.

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