- Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Onyx (November 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451181417
- ISBN-13: 978-0451181411
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,278,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cause of Death Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
If you like conspiracies, red herrings and convoluted reasoning, you'll love this book. Wecht, a forensic pathologist, has testified in cases argued by the likes of F. Lee Bailey and Alan Dershowitz. This book, though interesting in parts, is uneven as it rehashes cases involving famous and not so famous deaths. Wecht opens with the three Kennedy brothers: JFK was not killed by Lee Harvey Oswald alone; there was someone on the grassy knoll, he contends. Wecht discusses the mystery of JFK's missing brain (he indicates that Robert Kennedy may have taken it) and even suggests that the President's body should be exhumed. As for Robert Kennedy, Wecht acknowledges that a slug taken from RFK's neck was traced to Sirhan Sirhan's gun, but states that Sirhan did not kill RFK. Regarding Ted Kennedy and the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, Wecht notes that "there's very little new information or evidence," yet he regurgitates theories dealing with the botched investigation. Other celebrity cases involve Jeffrey MacDonald, Jean Harris and Claus von Bulow--all of whom he believes to be innocent of the crimes of which they're accused. And he does a thorough work-up on Elvis Presley. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In this fascinating book, a forensic pathologist relates his experiences with a dozen murders or supposed murders. As he does, he makes clear the education, experience, and character needed to make a good medical examiner as well as what such an individual should do. Although his case studies are the kind that encourage lurid treatment, Wecht deals primarily with hard evidence and his own substantial involvement when sloppy work by police and coroners made solutions either much harder or impossible. Those whose deaths Wecht reports on range from John F. Kennedy (whose case consumes one-fifth of the text) through Elvis Presley to Delbert Ward, who was made famous by the award-winning documentary film, Brother's Keeper. Who was the second shooter in Dallas (Wecht does not buy the conspiracy theory)? Who was the second shooter with Sirhan? What actually happened at Chappaquiddick? Such are the questions Wecht sought to answer. Especially interesting are the cases of Dr. Charles Friedgood ("one of [Wecht's] most bizarre cases"), of Capt. Jeffrey MacDonald, M.D. (the most troubling for Wecht), and of others whose demises are less renowned but as provocative. William Beatty --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
One is the assassination of JFK. ...He discusses some of the evidence that he has seen (of the autopsy and the doctors' testimony). He was responsible for discovering that JFK's brain is missing; it is evidence for the number of bullets and their path. Hidden evidence?
The other is the assassination of RFK. The "tattooing" marks on Robert Kennedy's right ear prove that he was shot in the right rear of his head by a gun held about 2 inches from behind. Yet Sirhan was no closer than 4-5 feet from his front. He thinks a better attorney would have gotten him off.
Both of the above cases had political effects that continue to affect us to this day. Dr. Wecht was a consultant to the movie "JFK" by Oliver Stone.
Dr. Wecht is from the Pittsburgh area, was involved in politics, and held various elected (Democratic) offices as Penna. Coroner and County Commissioner....
The book tells of some of the other interesting local cases that he was involved with. It is entertaining and educational.
The book is worth reading because of the chapters on JFK and RFK, and the other stories are educational and entertaining. He also consulted with the Los Angeles medical examiner who was the model for "Quincy, M.E.", a usually entertaining TV series from the early 80's. (I think it was one of the few that realistically showed the "personality conflicts" that occur between allied departments, and because of budgets.)
Chapter 1 deals with the assassination of JFK. The single bullet theory, from a scientific standpoint, is a deliberate attempt to cover up the truth (p.22). It was one of the worst investigations of a homicide he has ever seen. The autopsy was done by a inexperienced military pathologists. He attempted to get the autopsy reports, which are public records, for the Garrison investigation; but the Federal government would not allow it! Page 35 tells of his examination of the physical evidence. The preserved brain of JFK was missing. Page 43 points out that the forensic pathologist who disagreed with him had economic dependencies with the Federal government. He tells of a computer program that can analyze photographs to show details not observable by the human eye (pp.51-3). It detected alterations in the autopsy photographs. Dr. Wecht helped to develop the scene in the movie "JFK" that demonstrated why the single bullet theory is silly. He found the attitude of the Kennedy family "completely incomprehensible" (p.74). [Perhaps they were authoritatively advised of a shameful genetic disorder that must be kept secret?]
Chapter 2 deals with the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. The fatal bullet was most likely the first, which hit him behind hi right ear. The other two bullets were fired into his right armpit. [As if he threw up his right arm as he fell.] Sirhan was shooting from the front, and could not have killed RFK. The appointed defense lawyer never mentioned this. Chapter 3 deals with Chappaquiddick, the accident that killed Ted Kennedy's political future. No autopsy was done on Mary Jo Kopechne. The accident was considered just another weekend car crash (p.94). Any wooden bridge could be slippery with dampness. Page 101 teaches that you shouldn't tell Polish jokes when your judge is Polish; he denied their motion.
Chapter 4 deals with a Doctor convicted of murdering his wife. Dr. Wecht says for a jury to find a person not guilty, the jurors must feel that the defendant was framed by the police, or that it is possible that someone else committed the crime. Chapter 5 tells of the case of Jeffrey MacDonald. When a case is tried several years after the crime, the determination of what happened is limited to the evidence collected at the time. Jeffrey started a new life, then his father-in-law started a crusade to convict him. The old scars could be either self-inflicted or the result of multiple attackers. Jeffrey's psychological profile did not suggest a person who would suddenly snap and kill his wife and children
Chapter 6 tells of his review of the toxicology report of Elvis Presley. Many drugs were present; the levels suggested accidental death, not suicide. Dr. Nick was indicted for over-prescribing drugs for the King, but acquitted (p.147). Other chapters deal with Jean Harris, and Claus von Bulow. They are warnings against the recreational use of drugs. The other interesting stories deal with lesser known people. In dozens of cases a person appeared guilty, but the evidence was circumstantial and the person was innocent (pp.180-1). Page 196 explains why a defendant should not testify if they are "very self-confident".
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Could not turn in space,
Yet it broke millions of hearts. (Senryu)
This book was so fascinating, I couldn't put it down.