Lack of Autopsy Questioned In Scalia Death

A 79 year old man dying in their sleep would hardly cause concern to anyone in law enforcement.  Unless that man was controversial United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Scalia, found Saturday at a remote Texas Ranch, dead in his room with a pillow over his head according to the man that found him.  Following the death of Justice Scalia, who elected not to bring security on the trip, local law enforcement arrived and contacted a Judge who declared the death was from “natural causes” and did not order an autopsy.

The determination was made over the phone without seeing the body.  Deputy U.S. Marshals from the Western District of Texas responded immediately upon notification of Scalia’s death.

William Ritchie, a retired deputy chief and former head of criminal investigations for the DC police, said he was “dumbstruck” when he learned that no autopsy would be performed.  “As a former homicide commander, I am stunned that no autopsy was ordered for Justice Scalia……My gut tells me there is something fishy going on in Texas.”

Retired Brooklyn homicide Detective Patricia Tufo told The New York Post that “it’s not unreasonable to ask for an autopsy in this case, particularly knowing who he is…….He’s not at home. There are no witnesses to his death, and there was no reported explanation for why a pillow is over his head.”

We can’t imagine the chaos and stress on the local authorities when they are notified that a United States Supreme Court Justice was dead, thousands of miles away from home with no family or personal security present.  Men of this age range, being cared for by a physician, die in homes every day in America.  It is up to our law enforcement professionals at the scene to make the call on whether the death needs further investigation.  We know the Texas Officials had a tough job on Saturday morning and while we aren’t questioning their quick decision, we wonder if a different decision would have calmed down the conspiracy theorists.  Likely not, but these events are a stark reminder of the gravity that every decision that we task law enforcement to make.

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  1. DAvid Fisher

    I’m a consultant in TX over medical examiner and justice of the peace issues. Today (2-19-16) I spoke with the Presidio CO district attorney’s office and the offices of the 2 JP’s to alert them, their is still time to order a sample of Justice Scalia’s muscle tissue be obtained for Toxicology testing. I further warned that if the Judge Guevara fails to turn over her files to JP Bishop, so she can sign the death certificate, which is required by the statute, then I will file a charge of a falsifying a death certificate against JP Beebe. Under the statue only JP Bishop can sign the death certificate. Falsifying a death certificate is a 3rd degree felony.

  2. Daniel J. McGuire

    I fully agree, now that the fuller details are out, he declined his own security detail, and found dead hours later is just full of too many “What, How, What if’s….and more.

    I am not clear on Texas law when there is an unattended death and no autopsy being ordered?

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