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Reply #23: Do you mean "Dead Right"? link [View All]

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Beam Me Up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-20-04 12:39 PM
Response to Reply #20
23. Do you mean "Dead Right"? link
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by John Connolly

Spy Magazine, January 1993


It is almost an axiom among official agencies: First the screwup, then the cover-up. The authorities' initial acts-removing the door, draining the tub without straining the water to preserve evidence, not sealing the room as a crime scene-compromised the investigation from the start; so did the unauthorized embalming. Still, on January 25, 1992, five months after Casolaro died, the Martinsburg police, in conjunction with the West Virginia State Medical Examiner's Office, the Berkeley County Medical Examiner and the Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, issued a press release reaffirming their original conclusion: Casolaro had killed himself.

Since issuing their report, the police have refused to say anything further about the case. SPY repeatedly called the chief of the department, as well as the county prosecutor; neither would comment. All that speaks for the local investigation, then, is the police department's press release. It says that officials reaffirmed the original conclusion for several reasons. First, they somewhat tautologically cite the conclusion of the original autopsy that Casolaro had committed suicide and maintain that the embalming of the body in no way hampered the subsequent autopsy and toxicological studies. Second, neither the police nor the coroner were able to detect evidence of foul play. They found no signs of forced entry or a struggle. The room was neat, and neighbors had heard nothing. Third, they had the suicide note, and were convinced through handwriting analysis and fingerprints that Casolaro had written it.

Finally, they conclude that he'd brought the implements of his self-destruction with him. The razor blades are sold around where Casolaro lived but not near Martinsburg. The alcohol and trace amounts of a painkiller, oxycodone, that were found in his bloodstream seemed self-ingested. There was a half- empty bottle of Portuguese wine in the room, and Casolaro had more of it at home; the oxycodone could have come from Vicodin, a painkiller prescribed for him after dental surgery in 1987 and an empty vial of which was found in the room. The plastic bags in the tub were from a box of plastic bags that he had in his luggage, and the shoestrings may have been from a pair of laceless sneakers found in his home.

It's hard to argue with these conclusions based on the material the police have made public. However, the work of Martinsburg's Finest inspires little confidence. It's understandable that they treated the initial Casolaro investigation so lackadaisically-Hey, it's hot, it's Saturday, it looks like the guy did himself, let's go home-but you'd think the national press scrutiny in the aftermath of Casolaro's death would have inspired a little more conscientiousness, if only temporarily. It didn't. Twenty days after Casolaro's death, a Martinsburg man was found by the police with a .22 caliber bullet wound in his left temple. His fiance told them he had suddenly pulled out a gun and shot himself. Without conducting a simple and rather standard paraffin test on the girlfriend to detect gunpowder residue, the police ruled it a suicide. For some reason, they ignored the fact that the previous evening, officers had been summoned to the home by a call that shots had been fired. Nor did they question neighbors. If they had, they might have found-as I did when I talked to them-that the night before he died, the man told two people his girlfriend was after him with a gun.

Here, then, is what we've been able to discover. Most of our findings amount to highly anomalous facts and unanswered questions. But we also found relevant physical evidence that the police have simply ignored. Let's begin with the police department's proof.

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