We have survey results! Good old science... The following question was submitted via random sampling:
"A person is found dead at the base of a cliff. No one saw what happened. What should a Medical Examiner conclude?"
Although the pool of respondents is admittedly small, to the naked eye, people overwhelmingly doubt suicide - a belief that is mirrored by official statistics - more than five to one. That's also apparently what common sense leads one to think, but common sense isn't so common, is it?
If you were out on a boat fishing, and encountered a snarl like this one, you wouldn't waste your time trying to untangle it. You'd just cut the damn line off and throw it away... Well, this isn't that. What we have here is a county (Kalamazoo) that contracts with a state university (Western Michigan) which contracts with a private medical school (WMed, a.k.a. Homer Stryker School of Medicine), which gets funding from private entities (the Stryker family, Bronson and Borgess Hospitals) and public entities (numerous other counties which contract with them for forensic pathology services, not to mention Michigan State University and whatever scraps the state Legislature throws their way). They also charge quite a bit for tuition, and they offer medical services to the community.
Is all of that perfectly clear? Is the flowchart understandable? How about the accountability ladder? Would you like to try scaling this wall? It's a nifty racket; the mafia would love to have something as sweet as that... Oh, wait. They do.
The President of Western Michigan University is John "Nothing" Dunn. He was made aware of Charlie's case a long, long time ago. But he thinks in great swaths of time, he does. One of the things he has been known to say is, "Western has been here for a hundred years, and it will still be here a hundred years from now." That's not exactly inspiring to faculty, staff or students. He's congenial, they say... In fact, even though he is the 4th highest paid university administrator in the state of Michigan (at $440,000 and change annually), he gives everything above and beyond his original hire-in salary (which was a paltry $371,000) to the university in the form of scholarship donations.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Homer Stryker School of Medicine (WMed) is John "Nothing" Dunn...
Say, maybe with all those shipping containers full of cash, WMed might someday master the technologies of cryogenics and cloning. That way, they could bring Charlie back in a test tube, and he'd have a chance to complete his fulfilling and productive life which was tragically cut short on that terrible day. In fact, that may be what they have in mind; after all, Joyce deJong kept some of his tissue as samples, along with some blood she sucked out of his heart (with a needle, I'm saying), and even some vitreous humor - that's the fluid in your eyeball - again with the needle.
In researching her legal and professional history, a number of cases turned up in which pathologist-for-hire Joyce deJong asserted - against the physical evidence - that homicides had taken place. (Some of those have been explored here already.) To be fair, though, there was also an instance in which her opinion was used against a coroner who had declared a child's death to be homicide. She testified against his work, exonerating the accused family members in the case... So she does know the difference; shame on her where my nephew is concerned.
I will tell anyone who listens what a great job the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety's men and women did for us that night, almost a year ago now... A couple of the department's captains, however, have covered themselves in something other than glory. One of them is even eligible for the 2016 Golden Idiot Award for stating something to the effect of, "Look, the kid put the rope around his own neck."
Yes, and that's generally been the case in every single accidental hanging death that has ever taken place. Thanks for playing, sir, we have some nice parting gifts in the back for you as you kindly exit the rear of the studio.
A lot of folks would rather I didn't bring this up, but it bears mentioning. In each of the past two years, a young female student has turned up dead in a WMU dorm room. In both cases, "cardiac arrest" was to blame. One was 18 years old, the other was 19 years old. Were I a fiction writer, I'd be looking long and hard at something like that - a real mystery in an obscure, opaque place with lots of dark corners and creepy characters...
But I'm not a fiction writer.