tv Dead Men Talking Final Exit MSNBC October 29, 2011 9:00am-10:00am PDT
a man is dead. >> he was found naked and appears to be a lot of blood at the scene. >> his body is in a contorted position. >> something had to have happened here. people don't end up this way. >> as the man makes one final exit from his home, the mystery builds. accidental death -- >> did he die first? >> or murder? >> the van parked in front of the house. the lights never were off. >> now it's up to the macomb county medical examiner to figure it out.
>> let us see what's in his head. holy cow. dead men do tell tales as they say. every dead body tells a story. >> i'm on my way there now. i'm not there yet. okay? see you in a little bit. bye. >> saturday afternoon, macomb county, michigan, just north of detroit. this investigator from the macomb county medical examiner's office is on her way to a house where a man is discovered dead. >> this is a 50-year-old who was found by his father.
he is known to be a heavy drinker. and he is found naked, appears to be a lot of blood at the scene and it sounds like his head is thrown into a wall. >> renee is one of six investigators who work for the macomb county investigator dr. daniel spitz. >> they work around the clock, going to scenes, working with the police, basically being the eyes and ears for the office and telling the story of the deceased person. >> it isn't the law that requires investigators to show up at death scenes. it's dr. spitz's rule implemented when he was appointed medical examiner in 2004. prior to that investigators didn't have to physically attend death scenes making it possible in one instance to nearly miss a case of foul play. >> it was a concern of mine when i came that that was something i wanted to avoid, obviously. this is not the role of the
funeral home to call the medical examiner's office and say hey i think we found some stab wounds here. you may want to come take a look. >> before investigators view a body they collect information from officers on the scene. this will be an unusual case for renee. not only are the circumstances of the death odd but the officer on the scene happens to be her husband. east point police officer randy beagle. >> any drug abuse? >> alcohol. >> that's it? >> that's all the dad says. >> okay. >> before renee enters the house she interviews the dead man's father who discovered the body. every piece of information she collects can help the medical examiner determine a cause and manner of death. the name of the deceased? charles krueger jr., age 52. >> if the family's there i usually try and make contact
with the family first and identify, you know, who i am to them so they know why we're there. and they usually know why we're there but they understand that this is a routine. we have to come out for every case. high blood pressure, any heart problems, asthma? >> i don't know. he'd been on alcohol for quite a few years. >> okay. >> the man is open about his son's alcoholism. over the years, doctor spitz has seen that in many cases people end up in his office at least partly as a result of their own actions. >> one of the things that happens in a medical examiner setting is if you look at all the cases and step back, you see that most of the people that are in the office have done something to contribute to themselves being there. >> i'm going to enter your home now. okay? all right, sir. okay. >> a nurse since 1995, renee has worked for dr. spitz for a year and a half. in that time she's been on the receiving end of the full
spectrum of emotions from survivors and she's seen all types of deaths. but today's case will prove to be one of the strangest yet for everyone involved. >> dried blood right by the garbage can. if he was coughing it up or what not but the way he fell, there were bi fold doors hanging. they're now on the stairs. and he fell perfectly, his head, through the two studs there. you'll see it downstairs on the other side of the wall. >> you're telling me his head went through studs too? >> no. >> right between them. okay. >> well, we never seen one where a guy put his head through a wall before. that's new. >> it's unusual. when i got the call from renee regarding this case, and i couldn't quite picture what she
was telling me, although she was telling me exactly what had happened in that this man had somehow ended up with his head through a solid wall that was in his home. >> i try to assess the scene first and go to the body last. because of forensic issues. if this is a homicide or something i discovery don't want to be manipulating the body a lot because there is a potential to be trace evidence on that body so that's one of the last things i do. >> do you want a photograph downstairs, the shot of his head through the -- >> yeah, i do. >> initially, the first -- i'm thinking like a policeman. something had to have happened here. he got pushed. something -- people don't end up this way. >> these were upstairs, between the kitchen and the landing. this gun was hanging on the wall. and when he hit the wall, jarred
it loose. >> side by side, renee and her husband snap photos of the deceased. she for the medical examiner, he for the east point police. once they fully assess the scene, renee had the body moved to the kitchen floor so she can do a proper physical exam. when she's done, a company contracted by the county will transport mr. krueger's body to the morgue where dr. spitz will perform an autopsy first thing tomorrow morning. based on his history of alcoholism, it could appear he's the victim of a drunken accident. >> he'd obviously been down a while. >> but renee is careful not to jump to any conclusions. in fact, no alcohol had been found at the scene. now it will be up to the police, renee, and medical examiner daniel spitz to determine whether the death of charles
krueger jr. is the result of an unfortunate accident or a criminal incident. coming up next, information from a neighbor may shed light on the case. >> well, the last time i came out between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning there was the same van parked out in front of the house. >> it will take serious police work to piece together this mysterious puzzle. >> i'm thinking that he -- from that face stuff that he had to hit face first. [ male announcer ] take the fixodent 12 hour hold challenge.
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its six investigators, renee beagle. by sheer coincidence, the officer on the scene today is her husband, randy beagle. >> usually what happens when she's on call and i'm working our parting joke is i leave the house at 3:00 and she'll tell me don't find any dead bodies. i'll tell her, don't get called to any in my city. >> it's too early to tell whether charles krueger jr. has died a natural death or been the victim of foul play. husband and wife both work the case the way their jobs require. renee performs a physical exam on the body while one of her husband's colleagues, sergeant darryl korsy, questions potential witnesses. >> my son was talking about a van. well, the last time i came out between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning, there was the same van parked out in front of the house. >> okay. >> the lights never were off. >> did you know him very well? >> yes. he was a nice man. i'm heart broken. >> it's a small community. everybody kind of watches out for each other.
and she's wondering why nobody's getting out of this van or going into this van and then it was parked there for sometime and then drove off. and she had mentioned that charles had friends that would come by all hours of the night, mostly guy friends. >> as rene wraps up the physical exam she greets her boss, macomb county medical examiner, dr. daniel spitz on the case. >> okay. so you're going to do it tomorrow morning then. all right. bye-bye. >> if it turns out the case is a suspicious case, then we combine all the tools that we have from our perspective and from the police perspective to work together to get to the final answer. >> as rene continues noting details, one in particular jumps out at her. the man's father had described him as an alcoholic and virtually no alcohol is found on the scene. >> good to go? >> yes. good to go. >> watch your step.
>> as mr. krueger makes one final exit from his house, rene and the officers stop to analyze the puzzling case. >> well, it's really weird. but i don't think it's a homicide issue unless someone got in a fight and pushed him and that push led to something. >> i'm thinking that he, from that face stuff that he had to hit face first, go through the wall and was turning to try to get up. that's what put him in that contorted position. >> yeah. it'll be interesting to see if he died first or died while lying down. >> before authorities leave the scene the man's father has to do one more thing. >> what we have is a photograph. you're going to have to give a positive identification of your son. i know it's him but just for procedure you have to look at a
photograph if you don't have a problem. >> no. i have no problem. >> okay. >> yeah. that's him. >> that's definitely him. okay. so whenever you're ready whether today or tomorrow or monday even you can go ahead and contact the funeral home and then they will make arrangements to pick him up but he'll be ready to go back to your family by tomorrow afternoon. >> sir, on behalf of our department i apologize for your loss. >> thank you. >> as a patrolman working the street, once i finished what i had to do that day, once i completed my police report, my aspect of this is done. i entitled it suspicious death. it got forwarded to one of our investigators who followed up with the family. >> with the initial phase of the investigation now complete, the husband and wife team of cop and medical investigator is about to part ways. but before that happens, one final critical detail must be addressed. dinner. >> the benefits of the job. all right. >> all right, hon. >> see you, hon.
>> i'll see you. >> the plan was when i was done with work i was going to pick our kids up, bring them down and get an ice cream with him. but this is how we got to spend some time together instead. >> coming up next -- >> these are all contusions. >> finding a cause of death is one thing. determining manner, how it happened, is entirely another. >> whether it's a natural event that caused him to collapse or fall down the stairs and end up in this position or did it involve the actions of another person like during the course of an altercation? >> and more new cases. ♪
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call the number on your screen or visit our website to apply. dr. daniel spitz, medical examiner for macomb county, michigan, handles about 1500 deaths a year. that's about four a day. the business of death is always brisk and certainly intense. so he seizes any opportunity he can to get out on the ice and let off some steam. he works his games in before the
dead come calling, which they always do. >> hello. hey, shawn, how are you? okay. well good. i'll be in there by 8:30 and we'll get started. >> by 8:00 a.m. his grueling physical workout now behind him, dr. spitz heads into the office to perform today's autopsies. meanwhile, one of his investigators is on her way to a scene that's about to put her through an emotional workout. >> i'm heading to clinton township, the opposite side of town. a 78-year-old female that was found by her husband. >> police are first to respond to death scenes. when medical investigators arrive they always get briefed by officers. it's critical to know what they're about to walk into.
>> the husband is taking it hard. >> is he? >> and their oldest son, he's like 50. >> what's the son say? >> hello. >> the laws don't dictate that investigators have to go to every residential death scene. i find it very important. i think all the investigators here understand the importance of it and have adopted that role very well. >> patty roland is a three-year veteran of the m.e.'s office and a nurse by training. today that experience will serve her well. >> when we walked into the scene her husband was visibly upset. i mean, just distraught. i could sense that he was very uncomfortable and the officer on the scene told me that he had had chest pains prior to our arrival. are you having chest pains? >> not right now. >> were you? >> yeah. >> have you had a heart attack
in the past? >> yeah. i had bypass surgery. >> when did you have your bypass surgery? >> 2000. >> okay. you get that chest pain again you know you probably should call your doctor or go to the emergency room. you're dealing with a lot right now. >> i know. >> how long were you married? >> 60 years. >> oh. i'm so sorry. obviously my concern was for him. i had plenty of time. i was going to do my job but i needed to focus on him at that time. okay. i'm going to take a look at her and then i'll come back and talk to you. okay? >> okay. i'll be right here. >> let us know if you start having that chest pain because we need to worry about you now. okay? because we can call for an ambulance. >> i'm okay now. >> okay. >> you let us know if you're feeling faint or any of that stuff. okay? or shortness of breath? >> even though it seems clear this death is from natural causes, patty must still perform a complete physical exam.
>> her first full name. >> irene, middle name angela and spell the last name? spafirski. >> she had a c-section and her gallbladder removed. that appears to be all natural. >> i think they all realized that actually going to a scene gives them the best information and the best tools to make a decision as to whether this is a case that needs further investigation or is a case that can be comfortably released back to the family. >> the medical investigators take copious photographs and notes, documenting every detail of the deaths they attend. patty knows the woman's jewelry will be of significance to the surviving spouse. >> i'm going to ask the husband if he wants me to take off her
jewelry. leo, do you want me to take her wedding ring off for you if i can get it off or leave it on her? >> take it off. >> if i can get them off, i will. they were married 61 years and she was his best friend and the mother of his children and his life partner. i'm like i'm going to start crying because it was at the scene you just wanted to hug this old man because your heart broke for him. >> did you say that you did eat? >> yeah. >> okay. >> i just ate breakfast and then i was -- went to check her and couldn't see her breathe and couldn't wake her up and decided to call 911. >> she looks very peaceful. she looks like she passed in her sleep. >> i hope. >> yeah. yeah. she looks very peaceful, leo. >> i'll be right back. okay? >> yeah. >> after the exam, mr. stafirski
wants to view his wife's body. >> did you determine a cause? >> it's her heart. she went very quickly. >> she was a good woman. 60 years. >> patty's investigation is complete and she's certain irene died of a heart attack in her sleep. what patty cannot be certain of is how long leo can survive without his wife. >> your son and i talked about that he really needed to keep a close eye on him because it's very common that someone, two people that have spent a lifetime together, that he may pass shortly after her. they say they die from a lonely heart. >> i'm sorry for your loss. >> thank you. >> i'm sorry, leo. you take care of yourself. okay? >> of the 1500 deaths this
medical examiner's office responds to every year, only about 500 end up in the morgue for further study. irene stafirski does not need an autopsy. she will be released directly to a funeral home. >> i'm going to call her doctor and have her sign the death certificate so now we've actually contacted the funeral home and will have them pick up the body for funeral arrangements. >> death comes as a shock for those who aren't used to it. the emotional grief can be unbearable. for investigator patty roland, even though death plays a daily role in her life, it doesn't mean she's immune to feeling for families. >> leo's case i'm going to remember for a while. you know, i mean, that's a big part of our job is we're there for the family. you're there for the decedent
because you need to collect the evidence and figure out what happens and a case like this after examining her i was not concerned at all but he needed us. >> coming up next, no one's seen her in a week and now she's gone. far gone. >> she was found in her residence in a fairly advanced state of decomposition. ♪
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sunday is a day of rest for most people in macomb county, michigan. but the dead don't discriminate week days from weekends. by 8:00 a.m., all the key players begin arriving at the macomb county medical examiner's office. >> this is a 24/7 operation -- holidays, weekends, it doesn't really matter. sometimes the days that other people aren't working are our busy days. >> the medical examiner dr. daniel spitz is about to perform an autopsy on charles krueger jr., the man found naked with his head crashed through a wall. dr. spitz's two assistants, michelle waters and christina heisler, prepare the autopsy
room and mr. krueger. these two morgue attendants are the first to admit they live for death. >> it's considered taboo, death in general in our society. it used to be that way up until recently but i find it interesting because it is the number one universal in life. 100% of the people die. 100% of the time. >> working in the morgue has taught me that tomorrow's no guarantee. i could walk out that door and get hit by a bus. i can take care of myself, exercise, still might die of a heart attack tomorrow. it's not my choice. >> also here this morning is the investigator who attended yesterday's death scene, renee. she shows dr. spitz the photograph she took of mr. krueger so he can visualize the scene and begin to formulate a hypothesis. >> these are the two steps he fell down. this is the bifold door and there's the wall.
no blood, not on his underwear. a little bit but not dripping down his legs. >> so he broke both bifold doors off their hinges? >> yes. >> and then kept going down the stairs and through the wall. >> dr. spitz performs hundreds of autopsies every year. he's seen a lot since taking this job in 2004 but the case of charles krueger jr. has to be one of the strangest deaths yet. >> yeah. there he is. >> wow. >> totally through. >> so half of his body's on the landing and the other half is like in the basement. >> yes. >> okay. well, we shall see. there's a lot of unanswered questions. did this man fall and sustain injuries from impacting the door and the plaster that he ultimately went through? did he have a natural event that caused him to collapse and fall down the stairs and end up the way that he did? you know, you always have to
consider the possibility that somebody else was involved and somehow played a role in his injuries or death. another question is toxicology. you know, was he intoxicated to the point of collapsing down the steps and into the plaster? so, you know, while the scene tells me a lot, it's going to be the autopsy that answers the questions as to what ultimately happened. >> before the autopsy can begin, christina takes photographs of the body from several angles. if this turns out to be a crime it could end up in court. every step of every autopsy at this medical examiner's office is documented in detail. >> we were called in to do trace evidence collection on a body that was found in a home. >> and because mr. krueger was found naked with rectal bleeding, there are questions about whether he's been sexually
assaulted. a team of forensic nurses is brought in to take samples which will be sent to a lab for analysis. >> and the reason we were called in was because it's a suspicious death. it's not known at this point what the cause of death was. >> you're done? okay. cool. thanks. >> all autopsies begin with an external exam. as michelle and christina clean off the body, dr. spitz takes note of any physical injuries. >> all right. let's roll him this way and then roll him the other way and we shall soon start. holy cow. >> mr. krueger's blood alcohol could be a key factor in determining how he died. so michelle draws blood for toxicology testing. >> well, a dry, dark red, almost black abrasion. a lot of it could be post mortem.
so we'll see what kind of injuries if any he has related to that. >> as dr. spitz gets ready to start the internal exam, everyone crowds around to see the photographs taken at the scene of mr. krueger's death. even for seasoned veterans it's a shocking sight. >> look at right here. that's how they found him. he really had to fall hard. >> after about an hour's worth of prep work, it's finally time for dr. spitz to make the first cut for the internal exam. >> when was this guy last seen alive relative to his -- >> seen by his neighbor.
>> dr. spitz will remove, study, and weigh all vital organs. then he'll move on to the head. >> when you do his head, just leave the bone on there. i'll take it off so i can see what's in there. we've got some head trauma for sure. >> we kind of got it down to a system between him, me, and christina. we've learned to maneuver in a small area pretty quickly without running into each other, without stabbing each other, which is always nice. >> there's a distinct division of duties here in the morgue. each assistant knows her job and sticks to it. >> i'm more of the eviscerator. it's not going to do anything for my dating life at all but i am primarily the eviscerator. >> we can do each other's jobs but it works fastest this way. she'll take out all the organs and i will do the head. >> coming up, christina's area of expertise is about to come in handy.
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christina heisler, one of macomb county medical examiner's two morgue attendants carefully opens charles krueger's head. >> i make an incision from behind the ears and reflect the scalp over the face and now i'm exposing just the skull. >> the 52-year-old alcoholic was found dead yesterday. his head crashed through a plaster wall. to determine whether head trauma from the violent fall caused his death, dr. spitz must examine mr. krueger's head, starting from the outside, and working his way in. >> a lot of bleeding on his scalp. >> michelle removes excess blood from the skull bone to uncover
any hidden wounds. and the extent of charles krueger's head trauma quickly becomes apparent. >> oh, look at this. he's got a fracture. yep. just take your side and i'll take a scalpel to it. we have a fracture here i want to just scrape off. see if we can see how far it goes. it goes all over the place, comes here and branches that way, that way. >> the extensive skull fractures prove one thing. krueger hit his head hard. >> the question we still have is what internal injuries is he going to have as a result of that. what injuries are going to involve the brain, the bleeding over the brain like a subdural hemorrhage and then the real question is, do these injuries
fit with his own actions, his own fall down the stairway or could it implicate somebody else? let us see what's in his head. >> now christina moves on to face two of her skillful and hard-to-stomach operation, opening the head so dr. spitz can examine the brain. >> i will take the bone saw and saw around the skull, pick off the skull cap, expose the brain and remove the brain. i have a shield because i do the saw work and sometimes bone and blood will start spattering up and i'd like to save my eyes from getting any of that in there. >> break apart? not really? >> no. >> going to have a big something in here. >> the skull is opened. the brain removed. and krueger's killer stares dr. spitz straight in the eye. >> that's pretty cool. where you have an impact to the
back of your head you get the contusions opposite. that's what these are. these are all contusions. >> right. >> enough to kill you, right? >> yep. he had a very specific bruise pattern of the brain, which is contusions which means you have a bruise on the brain at the site of the impact and you have bruising on the brain opposite the site of the impact because of how the brain moves within the skull when there is a head impact. >> having solved charles krueger's cause of death mystery, dr. spitz must now try to determine the manner of death. >> unfortunately, in this case, while the ku and contra ku contusions allow me to be comfortable that the head injuries occurred from striking the wall what they don't allow me to do is say did this happen purely by accident or could somebody else have been involved?
>> did someone push him or did the man described by his own father as an alcoholic simply get drunk and fall? it all depends what the toxicology reports have to say. that can take up to three months. >> what i'll do at this point is contact the police, let them know what i'm thinking. i will not, you know, tell them how to conduct their investigation but i will mention that i think it's a good idea for them to talk to the people who were last seen with him, the people in the home the previous night. i think that just makes for a complete investigation should questions come up later. >> while one case draws to a close at the medical examiner's office, another is just beginning. ann pometeer age 42. >> a history of drugs in the past few years? nothing like that? just medications. okay. >> the woman's father is interviewed by this medical
investigator. >> all right. we're going to take a look and then call and have them do the removal and we'll be in touch with you on an ongoing basis to let you know what we know about her circumstances. okay? >> yeah. >> she is a diagnosed schizophrenic but fiercely independent. insisting on living on her own. her father and brother normally check on her once a week. but when they go to see her this week, they're greeted by a horrifying sight. the woman's been dead for several days and her body is decomposing. >> she was seen about seven days ago? >> yeah. >> my dad and i, we kind of tag team taking care of ann, going to the grocery store and back and forth but my dad called me today. he couldn't get her to come to the door. and so i came here and checked on her and opened the door and just looked in there and i knew she had gone.
>> there's no sign of trauma or any other obvious explanation for the woman's death. >> really not much else we can do right now, just contact the medical examiner, talk to him, explain the circumstances. >> if you need help i'll give you a hand. >> dwayne lockston, a medical investigator for st. claire county which is also in dr. spitz' jurisdiction, organizes the transfer of ms. palmateer's body to the morgue. dr. spitz will attempt to rule a cause of death in the morning. >> first thing monday morning,
ann palmateer's body is ready for the autopsy. it will be performed in a room specifically designed for decomposing bodies. they call it the decomp room. >> we're in our special autopsy dissection room for decomposed bodies, infectious bodies. it's not pleasant. it's a pretty profound odor. you can see the body is very distended. takes a green discoloration, the skin sloughs off. the skin turns greenish, reddish, black discoloration. >> coming up next, will this body's advanced state of decomposition prevent dr. spitz from unraveling the mystery? and some cases never get solved. will the man with the head injuries be one of them? >> this is one of the frustrating aspects of forensic pathology. why do we have aflac...
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at first glance dr. daniel spitz's morning routine looks fairly typical. he's picked up his dry cleaning and stopped off for a take out breakfast. but what follows next would leave most people cold. he's about to perform an autopsy on ann palmateer, a 42-year-old caucasian woman found dead and decomposing in her home. >> 42-year-old female found in bed. this is a psychiatric disorder, schizophrenia. hadn't been seen by her family for five days. >> during the course of the investigation, it was found that she had a fairly extensive psychiatric history and generally a psychiatric history is associated with taking a variety of psychiatric medications and in my experience that's always a concern is that the medications are being taken
appropriately. >> she may have some heart disease. she could have an enlarged heart. certainly that's common in people who are obese. >> excessive body weight puts additional strain on the heart. which over time can cause it to become enlarged. this is known as cardio megaly. once the heart is enlarged its ability to pump blood efficiently may become impaired often leading to heart failure or in some cases sudden death from a cardiac arrhythmia or irregular heart beat. dr. spitz will now determine whether this is what killed ann palmateer. to begin, dr. spitz will try to draw samples of ann's blood and urine to send to the toxicology lab for testing. a challenging feat in a body this badly decayed. >> when i got the toxicology back i will look at what drugs are present and then look at the concentrations that each drug is present. it's an analysis of the drugs
and the levels and the circumstances which allow you to come to the conclusion as to whether this is a drug related death. >> once toxicology is drawn, dr. spitz begins to remove the woman's fragile organs. he quickly sees that his hunch about an enlarged heart is dead on. >> her heart is awful big for a woman, even an overweight woman. so that's one potential problem right there. yeah. that's big. >> the average weight of a female heart is 280 grams. ann's heart is nearly twice that size. >> when we find an enlargement of the heart like that it's a very significant finding because that is a condition that can cause a sudden cardiac
arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death. even though the organs are decomposed you can still at this level of decomposition make a pretty good analysis of everything. you have a stock container? >> all of ann's organs turn out to be normal except for her enlarged heart. but until her blood samples are tested for drugs, dr. spitz must move this death investigation as pending. >> one of the things i will exclude before i focus my attention back on the heart is the toxicology concern that i have because of the medications that she's on. but i will be much more comfortable once i exclude that an overdose of medication played a role in the death. now there is nothing left to do but wait and dictate. >> hello. dr. spitz dictating. case number sec 0-8. ann c. palmateer.
>> as summer slowly turns to fall, death continues its familiar march. bodies arrive at the morgue and leave again. some deaths are resolved immediately. others must wait their turn. two months after the death of ann palmateer, the toxicology results are in. her death had nothing to do with an accidental drug overdose and everything to do with her enlarged heart. >> turned out that the toxicology showed low levels of an antidepressant, celexa is the trade name. the levels were very low and wouldn't have played a role at all. she died of what we call hypertensive heart disease, an enlargement of the heart, generally because of high blood pressure. she's also an obese woman and that certainly would have played a role on her underlying heart disease. >> final diagnosis hypertensive heart disease.
510 grams. >> and then there are the occasional cases that may never be resolved. toxicology on charles krueger jr. yields unexpected results. >> he has no evidence of acute alcohol intoxication. and that was concerning for me. most of the time alcoholics who fall and sustain fatal injuries are intoxicated at the time of the injury. >> police work uncovered information that the man had had a seizure one day before his death and was treated at a local hospital and released. perhaps the next day he had another one, causing him to lose his balance and fall down the stairs. is it really possible to fall with that much force without being pushed?
dr. spitz says there's no way to know with any degree of certainty. the east pointe police investigation failed to turn up evidence of foul play and found no additional information on the van seen outside mr. krueger's home the night he died and there was no followup on the sexual assault samples taken at the autopsy. >> so, basically closed. kind of a cold status. unless somebody comes forward and says, i knew him. i saw him the day before. he mentioned this. or i saw him with this person. which could kind of open the door. >> i'm just not quite comfortable with certifying the death either as an accident or a homicide and i'm left with an indeterminate manner of death. >> this is one of the frustrating aspects of forensic pathology. it's when you're faced with a case where the eyes are on you to answer the questions how did this person die? and under what circumstances did
they die? where you have to acknowledge that just may not have enough to work with to answer that question. >> it's the rare case that isn't solved around here. for the most part, the macomb county medical examiner is able to coax secrets out of the dead. before they're released and sent off to their final resting place. >> dead men do tell tales as they say. and the forensic pathologist is the one to interpret them. and pass them on to the parties that are interested. every dead body tells a story. we get the stories for the ones that fall under our jurisdiction. those are often the unusual and bizarre and sudden cases.