by M. Douget
Everyone has seen the three little monkeys, each covering his eyes, ears, and mouth. It has been seen for decades on television, newspapers, advertisements, and even t-shirts. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil is a pictorial maxim that has been long debated as to it’s true meaning. Some feel the meaning implies if we ignore the evil going on in our world, it isn’t happening. The Leon County Sheriff’s office has had a long history of wearing blinders and ear plugs to the evil that thrives in their community. Many deaths and crimes have taken place in this county, and little has been done to bring light to the truth in these matters.
One particular case, the death of Janice Willhelm, has been circulating on national television, national radio stations, and social media. The family insist it was murder. The police say suicide, but what really happened? The family hired Dr. Vincent J.M. Di Maio to get some answers.
Dr. Di Maio is an American pathologist and nationally renowned expert on gunshot wounds, and he happens to be from Texas. Di Maio is a board-certified anatomic, clinical and forensic pathologist. He attended St. John’s University, and received postgraduate training at Duke University. Di Maio just recently retired as the chief medical examiner in San Antonio, Texas. He is also the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, and has been a professor of the Department of Pathology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Di Maio was also appointed to the Texas Forensic Science Commission by Governor Rick Perry in 2011.
Dr. Di Maio has written a tremendous amount of novels, and has been in several television shows such as Frontline, Forensic Files, Deadly Women, and Murder by the Book. He was also hired to reconstruct the JFK assassination at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. The findings were provided in the documentary The Secret KGB JFK Assassination Files. Di Maio’s expert testimony has been used in many high profile cases, including the Zimmerman Trial in 2013.
Clearly Dr. Di Maio is an expert in his field, and knows what he is talking about. So what did he say about Jan’s death? Well after looking at Jan’s medical records, surgical records, crime scene photos, and police reports he has concluded that Jan’s death has a strong likelihood as being a murder. He also stated the case needs further investigation into this murder.
The Leon County Sheriff’s office needs to take off the blinders, and look into this death, and the other crimes that are being committed. The sheriff’s office is supposed to serve and protect it’s citizens. Why would a sheriff’s department ignore such heinous crimes? Are they just lazy? Do they truly not care? Are they protecting others? Or…are they involved…
In an interview with Dr. Di Maio the following questions were raised.
What do you say if an experienced attorney — particularly in cases involving suspicious deaths and police violence — a civil rights lawyer says that in the jurisdiction, they regularly get a second autopsy if the coroner’s office in that jurisdiction is involved?
“That means they don’t trust the coroner.”
Or they don’t trust the forensic pathologist also, who worked [for] them.
“Right, right. Honestly, we have always told people when they discussed a second autopsy — we’ve actually let them use our facility and use our personnel to aid their doctor … — we don’t worry about it. If you do a good job, you do not worry about a second autopsy. The only time you worry about a second autopsy is if you’re doing a lousy job. …”
“The major problem in this country is the coroner system, in that essentially what you’re doing is electing somebody with no medical experience, and then by his election, he somehow acquires all this medical experience. It’s absurd. It’s a specialty in medicine. Just like I would not go out and deliver babies or do neurosurgery, so it’s a specialty, and you train a number of years. What are the qualifications to be a coroner in many places? Usually it’s to be over 18 or over 21 and to be a resident of the county. Do you have to be able to read or write? I apologize for insulting coroners on that. What I mean is that this group was organized to make a scientific evaluation of the medical-legal systems as well as the crime labs, and so you’re going to have scientists on the committees. You’re not going to have politicians.”
You mean people who are elected?
“Yes. They’re called politicians, all right? In Texas they don’t really have coroners, except for the major cities, which are medical examiners’ offices. In the counties they have justices of the peace, and they’re kind of like a coroner, but they don’t have investigators or offices to keep bodies and things like that.”
“And it’s very interesting that I’ve talked to a number of them, and I say, “Would you be in favor of eliminating this duty from you?” And they said, “Yes!,” because they know they’re not doing a good job, and they would rather have medical examiners’ offices or regional medical examiners’ offices. And I think eventually Texas is going to go over to regional medical examiners’ offices. It’s just that nobody has taken the time to write the bill because most justice of the peace’s don’t care.
The evaluation of Dr. Owens and [Orleans Parish coroner] Dr. [Frank] Minyard and other coroners that we’ve spoken with is that what you — in a sense, the ivory-tower forensic pathologist — see as a problem the rest of society doesn’t. The politicians don’t see it that way. This idea of change is just not going to happen. There’s no drumbeat for change.
“Oh, yeah. They’re right. The problem basically is most politicians don’t care, because, as you said before, the dead don’t vote, except in Chicago and rural East Texas Counties. And a lot of people don’t even know the difference. You know, they see TV and CSI and the medical examiner, and they think that’s how it really is.”
“I mean, how often do people have contact with medical examiners’ offices and coroners’ offices? And even then, how do they know when it’s screwed up? I mean, when you look at a case as a forensic pathologist and you say, “Oh, oh, there’s no scientific basis for this decision. It’s just complete garbage,” and then you have a family looks at it, and it’s typed on this neat paper, and there’s this official seal, and they say, “I guess they know what they’re doing,” you can wrap garbage in pretty paper and nice ribbons, but it’s still garbage.”
And you’re saying they’re producing garbage every day?
“I’m saying in this country, many medical-legal death investigation offices are producing garbage, yes. …”
If you were to go to the best in Texas, where would it be?
“Best offices in Texas, I think, are; San Antonio, which I set up; Houston.”
… If you were to explain this to the average person out there, why is this important? I’m going to be dead, so what do I care?
“Well, it is important. What happens if you don’t wear seat belts? What about putting children in the front seat, where there’s an airbag? How do you know these things are effective? Or who’s even thought about these things? It depends upon forensic pathology to a certain degree.”
“Everybody thinks, you know, just about police agencies, but also, like, epidemics of drugs that are killing people. You have suicide. Is there a problem in the community? Is it in teenagers? All of a sudden you’re having these teenagers dying, drugs. Defective cribs — you hear all the time about crib recalls. Why? Because children die, which falls into the medical-legal field.”
“And then you have homicides. You have the people who are serial killers who walk away. You have innocent people in prison. And so all this falls under the medical-legal community.”
“Insurance — suppose the cause of death is incorrectly labeled. You can’t get insurance. Or the insurance company will pay. Or the person was killed because the working conditions were improper. This is all medical-legal. People would say: “Oh, well, they’re dead. That doesn’t affect them.” Yes, it does. It affects the public all the time. It’s just that people just kind of assume somehow things happen magically and don’t understand the significance of the medical-legal offices’ functions.”
So you’re saying that the investigation of the dead and the cause of death is critical to saving our lives?
“It is. It’s critical for — well, here, let me give you an example. In the early ’70s, some papers came out having to do with deaths of children in a family, and the papers came out of the pediatric community. And they said essentially that if you had a family with multiple children who were just dying, that this was all somehow related to genetics and that these were all natural deaths. Well, I was a forensic pathologist, and I was shown that paper. And I looked at it, and I said, “These are serial murders.” A parent was just killing kid after kid after kid in the family. And the pediatric community got outraged. …”
The National District Attorneys Association says that they are offended by the recommendation to separate medical examiners from law enforcement.
“I’m not offended in the least. … I don’t think medical examiners’ offices should work for police agencies or under the jurisdiction of a district attorney or a state’s attorney. I think there’s an obvious conflict of interest. …”
Medical examiners don’t want to take bad guys off the street?
The National Academy of Sciences has tried to eliminate coroners since 1928.
What’s the odds on it happening now?
“Maybe my grandchildren will see it. Honestly, it’s one of these fights that’s going to take generations to eliminate, because most people don’t care, unfortunately. It will take generations. …This report is not going to probably have that significant an impact on eliminating coroners. They’re going to be eliminated for, I think, financial purposes, because actually medical examiner systems on a regional basis are cheaper, and situations where something is done that is so bad everyone says, “
“We’ve got to fix the situation.” …