Medical Examiner Covered Up Murder

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Mark Walsh (left) believes his mother, Catherine Elliott (right), was murdered — and that Medical Examiner Joan Wood is covering it up.

Son of St. Petersburg woman says Medical Examiner’s Office concealed the truth

he Elliotts – Catherine and James and their children – shared a joke over dinner. Catherine cut her food into such tiny pieces, her son, Mark Walsh, quipped, that they were smaller than what you’d feed a bird.

     Catherine laughed with the rest of them. Her eating habits were sometimes the object of family humor. A small woman, she ate sparingly and cut everything into tiny bites because of the condition of her teeth.

     It was their last meal together. The next morning, Catherine’s body was found on the dining room floor, cold and stiff – with a very large piece of meat lodged in her throat.

     According to the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office, headed by Joan Wood, the cause of death was accidental. But Mark Walsh of St. Petersburg believes his mother was murdered, and that Joan Wood is covering it up.

Eight-year search

     Although Walsh had no idea of this at the time of the death in 1985, the meat in Catherine Elliott’s throat was almost half the size of a pack of cigarettes. Assistant Medical Examiner Edward Corcoran, who performed the autopsy, reported it as an “unchewed piece of meat ... found in the posterior pharynx 5.8 x 3.2 x 1.8 cm.”

     “You have to understand that when all this happened,” said Walsh, who was 25 at the time, “I did not know how to react. For one whole year, my sister, my brother and I went through a really tough time. We kept asking ourselves why did this have to happen to our mother.”

     A disconsolate Walsh moved to Hawaii and lived there for the next few years.

     In late 1988, when he returned to St. Petersburg for a visit, a friend passed on disturbing news heard at the time of the incident. She told Walsh that his mother’s left arm had been fractured just above the wrist and that the meat in his mother’s throat had been unchewed. No one had previously mentioned those facts to Walsh.

     Corcoran had not noticed the broken arm during the autopsy, evidently because he performed his examination roughly 12 hours after Catherine Elliott died – during the height of rigor mortis. This phase of rigidity passes, however, and those later preparing the body at the funeral parlor could not help but notice the fracture.

     Walsh has since talked to four people who confirmed that his mother’s arm had been broken. These included Charles Kerr, M.D., and Daniel Spivey, a St. Petersburg Beach Fire Department paramedic.

     Troubled by conflicting facts, Walsh concluded something was definitely wrong and moved back to Florida in March 1989, determined to find out exactly how his mother had died.

     Today, after years of running into stone walls, Walsh is convinced of two things: 1) that his mother was murdered and 2) that the Pinellas- Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office is effectively helping cover up the crime.

Medical Examiner Covered Up Murder continued...

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