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Post Mortem

An investigation by ProPublica and PBS “Frontline” finds the system to examine unusual fatalities often fails seniors, leaving them vulnerable to neglect, abuse and even murder.
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A joint investigation by ProPublica, PBS “Frontline” and NPR looks into nearly two dozen cases in which people were accused of killing children based on flawed forensic opinions and then later cleared.
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Profiles: The Child Cases
Document Timeline: The Case of Ernie Lopez

An investigation by ProPublica, PBS FRONTLINE and NPR looks at the nation’s 2,300 coroner and medical examiner offices and finds a troubled system that literally buries its mistakes. More »

Database Interactive: Autopsies in the U.S.A.

ProPublica, in partnership with PBS FRONTLINE and NPR, surveyed almost 70 of the largest coroner and medical examiner systems in the U.S. More »

Methodology: About Our Autopsy Data

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Shake-Up Inside Forensic Credentialing Org

The nation's largest forensic expert college will sell its forensic accounting division, following a series of investigations by ProPublica and Frontline.

Hidden in a Heart, a Discovery ‘Beyond Belief’

Linda Carswell hoped a lab test might bring closure after her husband’s mysterious death in a Texas hospital. Then came the unimaginable results.

One Step Closer To Getting Her Husband’s Heart Back

Since the mysterious death of Linda Carswell’s husband, a Texas hospital has kept his heart on ice. This week, an appeals court lifted an order blocking Carswell’s family from retrieving it.

Facing a Second Trial, Ernie Lopez Takes Plea Deal

An Amarillo man whose conviction for sexually assaulting a child was reversed after experts questioned forensic evidence used against him, pleads guilty to a reduced charge.

Cardiac Arrest: Hospital Refuses to Give Widow her Husband’s Heart

After eight years, the hospital that performed Jerry Carswell's autopsy acknowledges it has his heart, but still won't give it to his wife.

No Forensic Background? No Problem

There are no national standards for forensic experts. This is how I, a journalism grad student, became certified by the American College of Forensic Examiners International, a leading provider of forensic credentials.

California Governor Commutes Sentence in Shaken Baby Case

California Gov. Jerry Brown today commuted the sentence of Shirley Ree Smith, a 51-year-old woman whose 1997 conviction for shaking her infant grandson to death has drawn national attention.

New Evidence in High Profile Shaken Baby Case

A doctor at the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office is challenging the forensic evidence at the center of a 1997 murder trial.

Video: Shirley Ree Smith in Her Own Words

Free, But Not Cleared: Ernie Lopez Comes Home

The case of an Amarillo man, released from prison last week, reflects a larger controversy over the reliability of scientific evidence in child death cases.

Pioneering a Way to Distinguish Blood Disorders From Child Abuse

Child deaths are especially challenging for coroners and medical examiners because several diseases have symptoms that can mimic those of abuse. Dr. Michael Laposata and his colleagues have designed a series of blood tests to diagnose such disorders more accurately.

Ernie Lopez to Face Charges Again

Despite detailed challenges to the medical evidence, prosecutor says he sees no change in the facts of the case.

Texas Court Voids Conviction in Child Death Case

The court set side the conviction of Ernie Lopez, whose case we explored in our series on flawed death investigations.

A Far Cry From ‘CSI’

The fate of Shirley Ree Smith, convicted of shaking to death her 7-week-old grandson, is in the hands of California's governor. Child deaths can pose special problems for forensic pathologists. Unfortunately, many forensic pathologists aren't prepared to deal with the complexity of such cases.

Gone Without a Case: Suspicious Elder Deaths Rarely Investigated

An investigation by ProPublica and PBS "Frontline" finds the system to examine unusual fatalities often fails seniors, leaving them vulnerable to neglect, abuse and even murder.

Why Can’t Linda Carswell Get Her Husband’s Heart Back?

For almost eight years, Linda Carswell has been trying to find out how her husband died. Her quest has led to a fraud judgment against a hospital as well as autopsy reform in Texas. But she’s still seeking answers — and the return of his heart.

Without Autopsies, Hospitals Bury Their Mistakes

Hospital autopsies have become a rarity. As a result, experts say, diagnostic errors are missed, opportunities to improve medical treatment are lost, and health-care statistics are skewed.

How to Investigate Coroners and Medical Examiners

Reporters covering the criminal justice system rarely look at coroners or medical examiners -- instead we focus on cops and prosecutors and defense attorneys and defendants. A guide to examining death investigations.

Post Mortem: The Story So Far

Q & A: A Prominent Advocate Presses for Better Investigations of Child Deaths

Dr. Carole Jenny argues for putting federal resources toward tracking pediatric maltreatment and for medical societies to crackdown on irresponsible testimony by forensic experts.

Casey Anthony Trial Shows the Limits of Forensic Science in Proving How a Child Died

The Casey Anthony trial riveted America, with many TV experts and viewers near-certain of the young mother’s guilt. But with no eyewitnesses or confession, the case demonstrated how difficult it was to prove how 2-year-old Caylee died to a scientific certainty.

Transcript: Investigating Child Death Cases

Questions and answers on our investigation into flawed forensic evidence and wrongful prosecutions in child death cases.

The Child Cases

As part of an ongoing look into the troubled state of death investigation, ProPublica, PBS "Frontline" and NPR identified nearly two dozen cases in the U.S. and Canada in which people have been accused of killing children based on flawed or biased work by forensic pathologists, then later cleared.

Document Timeline: The Case of Ernie Lopez

Explore the events leading up to and following the conviction of Ernie Lopez. All events are based on medical, law enforcement and court records.

The Hardest Cases: When Children Die, Justice Can Be Elusive

A joint investigation by ProPublica, PBS "Frontline" and NPR looks into nearly two dozen cases in which people were accused of killing children based on flawed forensic opinions and then later cleared.

NOPD Officers Convicted in Handyman’s Beating Death

A federal jury in New Orleans convicts two officers originally cleared of wrongdoing when a local forensic pathologist called Raymond Robair's beating death an accident.

NOPD Beating Death Trial Draws to a Close

A federal jury will hear closing arguments today against two officers originally cleared of wrongdoing when a local forensic pathologist called Raymond Robair’s death an accident.

County Prosecutors Withheld Evidence About Doctor’s Credibility

A defense attorney has requested a new trial in a shooting case because prosecutors did not turn over information about forensic pathologist Thomas Gill

California County Opens Review Into Autopsies by Doctor With Checkered Past

Our investigation describing the troubled career of forensic pathologist Thomas Gill prompts officials in Northern California to re-examine his work in more than two dozen homicide cases.

Autopsy Firm’s High Caseloads, Practices Lead to Errors

Forensic Medical Group has become a key cog in Northern California justice system, handling death investigations for more than a dozen counties.

Without Competition, Private Firm Reaps Millions in Autopsy Work

Forensic Medical Group finds an unusual niche in Northern California, building a practice that has little overhead and more than a dozen counties as customers.

About Our Autopsy Data

Second Chances Underscore Flaws in Death Investigations

Despite a lengthening trail of errors that have spanned more than a decade, Dr. Thomas Gill has continued to do thousands of autopsies and to serve as an expert witness in criminal cases.

The Real ‘CSI’: How America’s Patchwork System of Death Investigations Puts the Living at Risk

An investigation by ProPublica, PBS "Frontline" and NPR looks at the nation's 2,300 coroner and medical examiner offices and finds a troubled system that literally buries its mistakes.

Series Partners

PBS 'Frontline'

NPR

In collaboration with the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

Case Profiles
Document Timeline

Database Interactive: Autopsies in the U.S.A.


Check out how 69 of the busiest coroner and medical examiner systems in the U.S. compare when it comes to death investigation.

Watch FRONTLINE's segment produced in conjunction with our story.

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