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AP FACT CHECK: Joe Scarborough staffer death not a “mystery”
AP Fact Check ^

Posted on 05/27/2020 8:51:29 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

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To: BushCountry
Death rate of young dying from fainting accidents. I could not find it. The chances of an extremely young marathon athlete fainting and dying has to be a close as to winning the lottery. I think even a person fainting has a survival reflex to prevent massive injury.

I seen people faint in the Marines from locking their knees while standing in attention for long periods of time. They collapsed straight down, like they were falling in on themselves. Never once was any of them hurt or hit their head hard.

Sigh, my brother's roommate in college dropped dead there on the tennis court.   It is a Christian college and way back then in rural Georgia, there was not much of a counter-culture lifestyle.

81 posted on 05/27/2020 1:51:46 PM PDT by higgmeister ( In the Shadow of The Big Chicken)
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To: x

Which heart condition did she have?

Is there a diagnosis code for “undisclosed”?

82 posted on 05/27/2020 2:13:29 PM PDT by P-Marlowe (Freep mail me if you want to be on my Fingerstyle Acoustic Guitar Ping List)
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To: P-Marlowe; x
Below is the entire "comment" part of the autopsy report. Boldface as in original, blue font added for emphasis. Original repeats the full heading on every page. The full autopsy report is 18 pages plus a 1-page forensic tosicology report.



DOD: 07/20/01 (FOUND)




COMMENT: In my opinion, Lori Kaye Klausutis died as a result of an acute subdural hematoma which occurred as a result of closed head trauma sustained in a simple fall. The etiology of the unprotected fall appears to be as a result of a cardiac arrhythmia from floppy mitral valve disease. The fall appears unprotected for two related reasons. First, there was no attempt of the person to guard against the fall. For example, sticking the hands or arms outward to brace or guard the head and body against impact with the floor or objects (in this case, the desk). No injuries of any sort were identified on the hands or arms of Lori Klausutis. Secondly is the significant amount of force that the fall generated, causing the substantial internal head injuries. A conscious person capable of guarding a fall would normally not have hit the side of the desk with such a large amount of force as a near unconscious person free falling with no guarding reflexes. This finding emphasizes that there were no guarding reflexes in place.

There is no doubt that the head injury is as a result of a fall rather than a blow being delivered to the head by a moving object. Lori has a classic "contrecoup" injury or bruise to the brain, meaning that her brain was bruised on the opposite side from where the external force was applied. The left side of Lori's brain was bruised while the external abraded contusion (scratch and bruise) was in the right temple region. The contrecoup contusion results when a freely moving, mobile head strikes an unyielding, firm, fixed object in a fall as in the floor, or, in this case, the desk. This finding is in marked distinction from the "coup" contusion or that injury which results from a moving object (example - a ball bat) that strikes a stationary head. In the coup injury, there is bruising of the brain on the same side as the external injury. There was no coup contusion in Lori Klausutis.


- - - - - - - - - -


There are only about three entities that generally cause one to drop in mid sentence or in mid stride. First is a pulmonary embolus (a blood clot that typically forms in the leg veins and breaks loose and travels up to the heart and blocks the circulation of blood to the lungs). Lori had no evidence grossly or microscopically of a pulmonary embolus. Second is a significant intracranial hemorrhage (catastrophic event) inside the brain itself or from a ruptured aneurysm. Lori only had the external bruise to the surface of her brain. There was no intraparenchymal brain hemorrhage or ruptured aneurysm to have rendered Lori unconscious. Third and most common is a sudden cardiac arrhythmia.

Floppy mitral valve patients can have several complications of their disease to include sudden cardiac arrhythmias. In some patients with floppy mitral valve who have died suddenly, monitoring revealed ventricular tachycardia degenerating to ventricular fibrillation. Neither of these rhythms will typically sustain an adequate blood pressure to maintain consciousness in the individual with these rhythms. Persons with floppy mitral valve also have an increased incidence of ventricular and atrial ectopy (abnormal extra and skipped heartbeats) which may precede either the ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation.

There are two independent corroborative witness statements that indicate Lori was not feeling well the day of her demise. One witness talked with her personally and she indicated that she was "anxious and did not feel quite right." These feelings could easily be those associated with extra or skipped heartbeats.

Unfortunately, an autopsy cannot identify a cardiac arrhythmia. This is an electrical event of the heart that requires a live


- - - - - - - - - -


patient. An autopsy can, however, identify those known cardiac conditions, grossly and microscopically, that are associated with cardiac arrhythmias that present themselves during life. A thorough forensic autopsy allows exclusion of other entities known to cause sudden death.

In this case, Lori Klausutis did not have a pulmonary embolus or an intraparenchymal brain hemorrhage or ruptured aneurysm. Her drug screen was unremarkable with no drugs in her system to cause her to suddenly become unconscious. These facts leave only a cardiac arrhythmia as the reason to go unconscious and subsequently fall and strike the desk in an unprotected fashion. If Lori's heart was normal, it would be problematic to postulate a plausible reason for a cardiac arrhythmia in such a young person. However, her heart was not normal. The heart contained an abnormality (floppy mitral valve) that is known to result in cardiac ectopy and dangerous cardiac arrhythmias.

Floppy mitral valve reportedly occurs in around 5% of the general population, being found in teenagers, young adults, and the elderly. Survival curves of populations with floppy mitral valve are indistinguishable from survival curves of the general population. Therefore, the incidence of sudden death in this disorder is low. However, the population with the condition is extremely large. Accordingly, deaths due to the floppy mitral valve are not rare in a busy medical examiners practice.

In summary, Lori Klausutis died as a result of the injury sustained when she struck the desk in an unprotected fashion. However, the etiology of the fall was most likely as a result of a sudden cardiac arrhythmia from her undiagnosed floppy mitral valve disease. In that all other reasonable causes of sudden death and injuries to cause fatalities have been excluded by autopsy and toxicologic studies, this leaves only the logical


- - - - - - - - - -


conclusion that the floppy mitral valve is the only viable remaining etiology that would have caused Lori Klausutis to, in essence, drop in mid stride. The manner of death is thus ruled as accidental. The above findings are rendered within a reasonable degree of medical certainty.


83 posted on 05/27/2020 2:41:39 PM PDT by woodpusher
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To: Colo9250; Bonemaker
Dr. Michael BERKLAND

Man Charged After More Than 100 Body Parts Found in Storage Container

Michael Berkland faces five years in prison for storing more than 100 body parts

September 8, 2012, 10:10 AM

Sept. 8, 2012— A former Florida assistant medical examiner is facing up to five years in prison for storing more than 100 body parts, including brains and hearts, in a Pensacola storage container.

Michael Berkland was arrested Friday on one count of improper disposal/storage of hazardous waste and one count of public nuisance, according to the State's Attorney. When he was arrested, it was discovered that he was driving with a suspended license, so he was charged for that, too.

Berkland, 57, spent several hours in jail Friday before bonding out, ABC News affiliate WEAR-TV reported. For the improper storage charge, Berkland faces up to five years in prison. He could face up to 60 days in jail on the public nuisance charge.

Lungs, hearts, tissue samples and 10 brains were found Aug. 22 in a storage container at Uncle Bob's Storage that Berkland was renting, according to Pensacola police. There were body parts from more than 100 people found in the air conditioned unit.

They were stored in formaldehyde in plastic containers, specimen cups, trash bags and one part even in a 32-ounce Styrofoam cup from a convenience store, according to police. Some of the containers were cracked and leaking.

Police said they believe the remains are from autopsies Berkland did between 1997 and 2007 at funeral homes in Pensacola, Tallahassee, Fort Walton Beach, and Panama City. Some of the containers had patient names and autopsy dates on them while others were blank.

After an autopsy, normal procedure is for for doctors to keep a tissue sample for a year in case further tests are needed, the medical examiner told WEAR-TV, adding that there is no reason to keep an entire organ.

Berkland, who is no longer licensed in Florida, rented the unit from August 2009 until Aug. 22, when the unit was auctioned off for $900 after Berkland was late on payment, police said.


- - - - - -

Before coming to Florida, Berkland had been fired as a contract medical examiner in 1996 in Jackson County, Mo., in a dispute over his caseload and autopsy reports. His doctor's license was ultimately revoked there.

Berkland had incorrectly stated on the reports that he had taken sections of several brains to be preserved as specimens for medical conferences and teaching purposes.

He called them "proofreading errors" and the Missouri attorney general's office found they did not jeopardize any criminal cases.

At the time, Berkland contended the actions against him in Missouri were politically motivated and unfair because he was unable to present evidence in his defense.

84 posted on 05/27/2020 2:43:53 PM PDT by woodpusher
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To: SeekAndFind

Lori Klausitis obit list her death on July 19, 2001. Her body was discovered on the morning of July 20, 2001.

The Northwest Florida Daily News published an archive of their stories on Lori Klausutis. TEXTPDF

Published: Saturday July 28, 2001

Aide’s death still a mystery

Blood test results and an autopsy were unable to reveal Lori Klausutis’ cause of death.

By AMBER BOLLMAN | Daily News Staff Writer An autopsy and blood tests have not revealed why 28-year-old Lori Klausutis died, Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Berkland said Friday.

Nothing in the blood tests showed how Klausutis died seven days ago, Berkland said. The autopsy also was not conclusive, though the medical examiner did say that there was no evidence of foul play.

. . .

- - - - - - - - - -

Letter to the Editor, Publ. July 29, 2001
Norm Klausutis, Lori's father-in-law

She did not suffer from seizures, nor did she have a history of medical problems.

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Published: Tuesday Aug. 7, 2001

Examiner: Klausutis’ death was accidental

Scarborough’s aide was alone in the office when she passed out and fatally struck her head on a desk.

By TOM McLAUGHLIN | Daily News Staff Writer

While a blow to the head was ultimately responsible for the death of Lori Klausutis, an undiagnosed heart condition caused her to collapse and take a fatal fall July 19, a local medical examiner ruled Monday.

The 28-year-old aide to U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough probably would have died as a result of the cardiac arrhythmia that rendered her unconscious even if she had not hit her head on a desk.

Those are the findings of Okaloosa County Associate Medical Examiner Michael Berkland, who spent an estimated 80 hours unraveling the cause of Klausutis’ death. Berkland announced his findings in a news release Monday.

Berkland’s report labels her death “accidental” and brings to a close an investigation that had dragged on despite an early determination that no foul play was involved.

. . .

Klausutis struck her head on the side of a desk when she fell, Berkland said. The “unprotected” nature of the fall led him to believe the victim was unconscious or losing consciousness when she went down. Blood collected internally within Klausutis’ head at the point of impact with the desk.

The “blood clot” killed her, Berkland’s release said. Berkland acknowledged Monday that Klausutis had sustained a “scratch and a bruise” from the fall that were noted in the original death investigation.

On the day the body was found, though, Hogue denied finding any sign of trauma to the body. The original denials were designed to prevent undue speculation about the cause of death, Berkland said.

“The last thing we wanted to do was answer 40 questions about a head injury,” he said.

Berkland found evidence of a previously undiagnosed “valvular condition of the heart” through analysis of the heart and brain of the victim. Further microscopic analysis confirmed these findings, he said.

. . .

- - - - - - - - - -

August 8, 2001

Associate Medical Examiner Michael Berkland said Monday that the aide, Lori Klausutis, suffered a heart condition -- previously unsuspected and undiagnosed-- that caused her to collapse in U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough’s office on the afternoon or evening of July 19.

She fell and hit her head on a desk, he said, and a resulting blood clot caused her death. The fall left “a scratch and a bruise,” Dr. Berkland said.

That seems to conflict with previous official statements that the aide’s body bore no sign of trauma. Dr. Berkland acknowledged as much. He said the original denials were intended to prevent public speculation about the aide’s death.

“The last thing we wanted to do was answer 40 questions about a head injury,” he said. Now, of course, there are deeper questions.

“That we’ has got nothing to do with me,” Fort Walton Beach Police Chief Steve Hogue told us Tuesday, referring to Dr. Berkland’s explanation that “we” wanted to keep the head injury quiet.

“I have never lied to the news media. I would never mislead the media for any reason.”

Chief Hogue said he “never looked at the body” after it was discovered July 20.

“I never heard anything about a scratch,” he added, although Dr. Berkland did tell him there was a small bruise on the aide’s head. The chief said that when he told reporters there was no trauma to the body, he meant that a preliminary examination had uncovered no major trauma. And he said he is satisfied with Dr. Berkland’s work.

We’re not.

This story has raised serious questions from the beginning and continues to confound. Now, because of Dr. Berkland’s statements, our questions are not just about a 28-year-old woman’s death but also about the investigation of her death.

Who, exactly, decided the head injury would not be disclosed? Can we depend on authorities to be honest about the progress of future investigations? What else, if anything, might the medical examiner have kept under wraps? Nobody ever got in trouble by keeping his mouth shut, the saying goes. Maybe not, but nobody ever won the public’s trust that way, either.

- - - - - - - - - -

August 23, 2001

He said she fell, hit her head on a desk, suffered a blood clot and died. Dr. Berkland said there was an obvious injury to Mrs. Klausutis’ head.

Previous official statements had said there was no sign of trauma. On Aug. 9 the Daily News verbally requested the Police Department’s investigative report on the Klausutis case.

On Aug. 10 the newspaper made a formal request, in writing, for Dr. Berkland’s autopsy report. That was two weeks ago.

Police Capt. Ron Bishop says the investigation is open-- meaning the records can’t be released-- until Dr. Berkland’s autopsy report is filed with the Police Department.

Dr. Berkland says he’s been too busy and hasn’t gotten around to finishing his report. Until today, the Daily News has not publicized its request for the records.

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August 25, 2001

Two weeks after initial requests that went unanswered, the Northwest Florida Daily News delivered letters Friday asking the Associate Medical Examiner and the Fort Walton Beach Police Department to explain why they have not turned over their records in the July 19 death of Lori Klausutis, an aide to U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough.

The letters, from Daily News Editor Ralph Routon, cited Florida’s public records law and asked Dr. Michael Berkland and Police Chief Steve Hogue to “immediately inform us of the specific statutory exemption that would excuse the continuing delay” in producing the requested information.

- - - - - - - - - -

August 29, 2001

Details emerge in aide’s death

A police report reinforces the finding that Lori Klausutis’ death was accidental

By TOM McLAUGHLIN | Daily News Staff Writer

Two Fort Walton Beach police officers who witnessed the autopsy of Lori Klausutis, an aide to U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough, reported her skull had been fractured.

The extent of the head injury has never been reported by those investigating the July 20 death of the 28-year-old at Scarborough’s Fort Walton Beach office.

. . .

The skull fracture didn’t change the findings about what killed Klausutis, according to Associate Medical Examiner Michael Berkland. A hairline fracture like the one found is completely consistent with an unconscious person’s fall and totally inconsistent with a physical assault, he said.

“We know for a fact she wasn’t whacked in the head because of the nature of the injury,” Berkland said.

The blow to the head Klausutis received when she fell onto a desk at the congressman’s office would have caused a significant injury, Berkland said, but he termed it “just another symptom” of her death. Cardiac arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythms, halted Klausutis’ heart and stopped her breathing, he said.

The blow to the head contributed to the death because blood pooled at the point where the fracture occurred. Berkland’s autopsy report has not been made public, though a public records request has been made for the document.

. . .

Some interesting items found-- or not found-- in the report include:

* Tiffany Bates, an aide in Scarborough’s Pensacola office, was the last person known to have spoken to Klausutis, at shortly before 5 p.m. on July 19. Bates congratulated Klausutis on an upcoming job interview and Klausutis told her she wasn’t feeling well.

Reached in Pensacola Tuesday, Bates declined to comment. She said members of Scarborough’s staff had been directed to refer all questions about the Klausutis case to Scarborough spokesman Miguel Serrano.

* An admission from Don Graham, owner of D-Train security company, that he “may have missed” checking to see if the doors at Scarborough’s office were locked when patrolling the office complex between 11:30 p.m. and midnight on July 19. Graham had originally told investigators that the congressman’s office doors were locked, its lights out and that there were no cars parked in front on the night Klausutis died.

An employee at the International House of Pancakes, arriving for work at about 5 a.m., reported seeing Klausutis’ car parked in front of Scarborough’s office and said lights inside the building were on. Graham could not be reached for comment.

Juanita Marie Bergmann, a Destin resident and former nurse, and her husband, Andreas Bergmann, were the couple who found Klausutis’ body. Juanita Bergmann checked the pulse of the young woman while her husband called 911. She said she saw no indication of a head injury and no indication of foul play.

. . .

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September 1, 2001

Autopsy report on aide released

The findings confirm Lori Klausutis died after falling and hitting her head on a desk.

By JEFF AYRES | Daily News Staff Writer

Saying he wants to “extinguish the fires of speculation” surrounding the death of an aide to retiring U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough, Associate State Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Berkland released the autopsy report of Lori Klausutis on Friday.

The 18-page report is in line with previous statements Berkland made concerning how Klausutis, 28, died in Scarborough’s Fort Walton Beach branch office sometime during the evening on July 19. Berkland said he hopes the details of the autopsy report will stop rampant speculation on the Internet and elsewhere concerning Klausutis’ death.

The report states that Klausutis’ death was caused by her head striking the edge of a desk in the office. The fall that caused her to strike the desk was likely triggered by an undiagnosed heart condition known as floppy mitral valve disease, which is typically marked by abnormal heart rhythms.

. . .

85 posted on 05/27/2020 2:45:22 PM PDT by woodpusher
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To: woodpusher

Edge of a desk? Unless she fell from the ceiling or was 11 feet tall, I don’t see how hitting the edge of a desk could cause this kind o brain injury. In order for her to have suffered that kind of brain injury hitting a wooden desk, her head would have to be traveling at a pretty high velocity. A fall from 2 feet would result in a velocity of about 2 mph. If she was 3 feet taller than the desk, the velocity would reach maybe 2.5 mph. Her head would have to be pushed violently into that desk to suffer the kind of injury reported in the autopsy.

86 posted on 05/27/2020 4:17:46 PM PDT by P-Marlowe (Freep mail me if you want to be on my Fingerstyle Acoustic Guitar Ping List)
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To: SeekAndFind

I’m sure it was a Covid death

87 posted on 05/27/2020 4:19:40 PM PDT by Fledermaus (ONLY A MORON THINKS 6 FEET IS A MAGIC NUMBER!)
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To: outofsalt

You know you are getting old when you need a “wayback machine” to remember the year 2001!

88 posted on 05/27/2020 4:25:09 PM PDT by SamAdams76
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Could be a PFO, a myxoma, a bileaflet valve. They never say.

The ME did:

"A. Mitral valve with baggy redundancy of the valve leaflets and thickening of the valve leaflets (floppy mitral valve).
B. Microscopic conformation of the mitral valve leaflets to contain an abnormal zona spongiosa."


89 posted on 05/27/2020 4:45:44 PM PDT by semimojo
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To: SamAdams76

When I was a kid I thought, In the year 2000 I will be soooo old...

90 posted on 05/27/2020 5:57:20 PM PDT by outofsalt (If history teaches us anything, it's that history rarely teaches anything.)
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To: P-Marlowe
Edge of a desk?

See my #84 about the autopsy doctor. I doubt any of his reports could be deemed authoritative. Also note the comment, "Unfortunately, an autopsy cannot identify a cardiac arrhythmia. This is an electrical event of the heart that requires a live patient."

91 posted on 05/27/2020 8:47:15 PM PDT by woodpusher
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To: higgmeister

Sigh, my brother’s roommate in college dropped dead there on the tennis court.

From hitting his head? There is a big difference to dying of a medical reason and physical trauma caused by a fainting spell. This is what we are discussing. I seen fainting and epileptic seizures and not once seen anyone seriously hurt because of the fall. As I stated the fainting spells I seen, the person seemed to have a protective instinctual reaction and collapsed inward on themselves.

92 posted on 05/28/2020 5:52:46 AM PDT by BushCountry (thinks he needs a gal whose name doesn't end in ".jpg")
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To: BushCountry
I understand. The roommate's problem was apparently an undiagnosed heart anomaly. Totally different from the apparently manufactured excuses for Scarborough's intern.
93 posted on 05/28/2020 11:25:25 AM PDT by higgmeister ( In the Shadow of The Big Chicken)
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