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Monday, April 24, 2017

An Open Letter to the Kalamazoo County Corporate Counsel

Dear Sir,

I have read your proposal, which was emailed to Charlie's mom's attorney, offering to change the cause of death determination on his Death Certificate. His mom's attorney will let you know what she thinks about that, but my guess is that her son would not want her to trade away her Constitutional rights in exchange for "Indeterminate". Although such a swap would alleviate Kalamazoo County of their official indecency in this matter, it is hardly what I would consider a fair or reasonable offer.

I'm only sticking my big beak into this because you have grabbed ahold of it so firmly. Of course, I am talking about the part of your offer which includes me also giving up my right to free speech, representative government, etc... And also taking down this here blog.

In a much better world than this one, I'd be flattered. You want this thing? I know it's shiny, and it sure goes fast, but are you sure? I mean, it requires near-constant maintenance, and has awfully high mileage for being only a year old. I don't know.

My first response was to fish for estimates from Viking and Penguin, because what you're really doing is asking to purchase my publishing rights. I always thought it would be a hard sell, myself, as the subject matter is generally unhappy and besides that I've already given it away for free.

Anyway. I understand that Dr. deJong and the others on her island want it gone. Of course. I understand that Charlie's mom's attorney told you he doesn't represent me, and that I obviously wouldn't be too keen on your offer. Actually, I authorized him to make you a counter-offer.

I gave him the outline of a deal - basically, you'll have to sharpen your pencil. Here are my terms much more specifically. (I know that the usual office protocol would be to communicate this via back channels, but it's all part of my public inquiry, so I'll ask you to forgive me for that.)

I am willing to delete this blog and its fellow Paulie Leaks blog in exchange for a change to Accidental on Charlie's Death Certificate. That's it.

No other conditions. My right to seek redress of grievances in court, my right to speak freely, my right to contact my representative, my right to file complaints to regulatory boards and/or agencies... Those rights are not bargaining chips to be splayed out on a cold metal table under blue fluorescent lighting.

American soldiers are, to this day, fighting and dying for those rights to even exist. With the number of veterans in our family, I would never dishonor their bravery and their service, which is what I would be doing if I considered your cynical offer for even one second. So just as I asked you to forgive me for this public demonstration, I'll forgive you for passing along the County's insult.

My offer is, in plain Latin, quid pro quo... with no strings attached. If the Medical Examiner has committed no wrongdoing, as you so stridently assert, then there should be no concern about future litigation. In any event, since the taxpayers will be footing the bill for her defense, I'm not sure why you or she is worried about it. The same goes for filing regulatory complaints, or asking the County Commission (they already know) to have Dr. deJong removed, or really anything else the law allows.

Please accept my offer. It will bring peace to my family and to my soul and to my keyboard. I am glad to know that you people have finally learned to understand how it feels to want something so badly, and to not be able to get it, even though it could so effortlessly be given to you by the one who has it. Finally, we're on the same page.

If you turn me down, the Book of Charlie will come off the table and will never return to it again, ever; not ever. And, as you might well expect, I will turn it up to 11.

Rest assured that I really have taken it easy on the M.E.'s office so far in this space. I have had to take into account the sensitivities of my family members and friends who read it. That can change. For instance, if you don't think I'll publish autopsy photos, which are in our possession, to prove the point that a suspension/strangulation by ligature death in no way justifies a full postmortem autopsy - and all that it entails - you are horrifyingly mistaken.

But then that would hardly be new or different, would it?

You all think it over. You can have what you want. But what you desire has great value to me, to Joyce, and to the public in whose name this has all been done. My asking price is high, and is not negotiable.

As for non-disparagement and non-contact agreements on my part, sure, that's no problem, Thom. Write it up. Send it to Charlie's mom's attorney. Get it over with...

Or get ready for another long, hot summer.

pH 4.24.17


NEXT WEEK: "Barbecue Kai Chicken"


  1. The clock is ticking on my offer. After so much time and so much abuse, I am short on patience anymore.

  2. As Charlie's grandmother I am still very concerned and dismayed at the finding of Charlie's death as SUICIDE. The reasons given were threefold:
    Suicide Circumstances
    Recent suicide of friend/family
    Crisis in past 1 weeks
    Other relationship problem
    These three things are simply figments of someone’s imagination and are most certainly not true.
    Recent suicide of friend/family - there has been no suicide of any family member, no suicide of any known friend or acquaintance of either Charlie or anyone else that we know. This is simply not true.
    Crisis in the past 1 weeks – there was no crisis in Charlie’s life, no crisis in either Charlie’s maternal or paternal family, or for any of his friends or acquaintances. This is simply not true.
    Other relationship problem – what on earth does this statement even mean? If there was any relationship problem in this 12 year olds life he most certainly would have shared that with his mother, father, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends or grandparents. This is simply not true.

    Problems in Possible Suicide Cases

    In the same article, Dr. Panella also explains that for a ruling of suicide, the medical examiner must conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the person intentionally meant to kill himself. This can prove tricky for a medical examiner, because once again he does not know the intent if there are not other reports available to help him make that determination. If a person dies after drinking a large amount of alcohol and ingesting a large amount of sleeping pills, it might appear as suicide, but there is reasonable doubt. The person might not have realized how many pills he was taking or meant to take something else, not sleeping pills. According to Dr. M.J. Breiding of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many suicides end up as undetermined classification due to the lack of knowledge surrounding intent.

    Meaning of Undetermined

    Most states recognize five causes of death: undetermined, natural, homicide, suicide and accidental. The main problem for medical examiners in classifying death is that homicide, suicide and accidental all involve intent. A medical examiner may classify the cause of death as undetermined if the intent is not understood at the conclusion of an autopsy, due to legal consequences attached to such cases. For legal purposes an undetermined cause of death simply means the medical examiner cannot say for sure what caused the death of the person. For example, if a person with severe heart problems dies of a heart attack and is found to have a large dose of cocaine in his system during autopsy, it may not be clear if the heart attack was natural or cocaine caused it. If the medical examiner cannot conclude, he might list the death as undetermined.
    Our family wants the Death Certificate changed to Accidental - not UNDETERMINED as that means they don't know how it happened - (ligature marks and witness statements say that he was found hanging so that ought to be obvious)
    and or course not say SUICIDE because there was no indication of intent whatsoever either by word or written.
    Our family would like to be able to grieve Charlie and not constantly have to struggle with this death certificate finding - it is almost two years now and we pray daily that the coroner will change the finding as was offered in a recent letter from Thom Canny.


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