Death Investigations: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Buy Bentyl

Death Investigations: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Death Investigations: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

By Bryan Wright 28 Comments May 23, 2019



death it's one of the few things in life that you can't avoid along with taxes and plugging in a flash drive upside down on the first try statistically it can't be done specifically this story is about the people who investigate deaths when they happen and if you're thinking I don't want to see that on TV are you completely sure about that because death investigators aren't just supporting characters on some of the most popular shows like Law & Order SVU CSI and NCIS every once in a while they even get a show of their own think you can get away with murder over her dead bodies ABC's body approves smart is always better when it's partnered with sexy Rizzoli and Isles I'm New York City's top medical examiner it's like I've been doing this forever well actually forever yes forever which is also precisely the wrong answer to the question how long was that show on television but but it's not just TV death investigators who are very busy in real life every year about 2.8 million Americans die and most of the time a position is the one who writes what happened to them on the death certificate but if someone dies under suspicious or unnatural circumstances their body may be sent for further examination and possibly a forensic autopsy that's what happens to around half a million bodies each year and those investigations are incredibly important a death certificate isn't like a degree from USC it actually means something autopsy results have huge implications now there's the obvious one like determining whether someone has been killed and if so how but they also help identify new trends in substance abuse they warned us about defective products and they can sound the alarm when they spot the spread of an infectious disease and people who work in this field take that responsibility seriously I mean we're on the front line of what's being done what's what people are dying of we see it every day and we noticed a trend pretty quickly so we wait to get the information out to the public as soon as possible so that other people are aware of what's going on maybe prevent a few deaths if we can right that's a very important point about the public health role of her office only slightly undercut by the skeleton of Santa Claus behind her though it seems for some reason died with his dick in a box while it would be great if those autopsies were always performed and overseen responsibly as local news regularly shows us that is by no means the case tucked away in a storage unit in Pensacola authorities found more than a hundred human organs the renter of the unit former medical examiner Michael berkland the family of an elderly murder victim is not happy not at all they found out that two now former GBI employees took a picture holding the dismembered head of their loved one we can't show you that picture because it is too graphic so we're only showing you part of it Shelley took the Marines brain home with him to Virginia removing it from a jar and letting his kids play with it while his wife took pictures okay okay so that's an appalling story for a number of reasons but most of all why did his wife take pictures what was she going to do with them post them on Facebook okay with what caption Jackson and Faber Tim Timothy handling a brain daddy's so good to them always bringing home a new organ for them to molest hashtag growing boys hashtag god is good I look well those are just individual examples of what can go wrong the problems are much broader with reports finding many death investigation facilities are antiquated and in need of repair or replacement and given how critically important those facilities are it is shocking how often they're funded as an afterthought currently the US government provides virtually no funding to either medical examiners or coroner's one of their grants was for one office to get a new refrigerator because their current refrigerator was closed by a belt you know that's how poorly funded I myself have worked in an office where it was a converted garage with a single light dangling from the from the the roof a single light bulb over my autopsy table that is quite frankly too spooky if I if I've learned anything from horror movies is that when you see a room containing one dead person one a live person and one light bulb that's a room that's about to contain two dead people and one so tonight learn from movies so tonight let's talk about our death investigation system specifically how it works why it's such a mess and what we can do about it and before we go any further you should know that depending on where you live or indeed die you could wind up funnel into one of two systems around two-thirds of the country's death investigation offices are overseen by coroner's while medical examiner's oversee the rest now you might think that those are the same thing and they do have essentially the same job they're responsible for deciding whether to have someone conduct an autopsy and then using it to rule on the cause and the manner of death but there is a key difference between them when it when it comes to qualifications in particular while medical examiners are required to be doctors coroner's are usually not medically trained at all in fact in Georgia out of 154 coroner's only one is a physician while the others include grocers farmers handy men and hairdressers which is a little bit weird I mean no disrespect to hairdressers but some have been known to drop the ball from time to time mistakes have been made and if you are wondering how the hell grocers and hairdressers became coroner's in Georgia as in much of the country coroner's are actually elected and the bar to run for the job can be very low in fact in Arkansas there is barely a bar at all you can run and be elected with zero medical knowledge anatomical training or official certification of any kind you have to be 18 years or older you cannot be a felon and you're electable holy look to your right now look to your left both those people are eligible to be and indeed our coroner's in Arkansas and having elected officials with no medical training signing off on death certificates is frankly weird enough before you factor in the potential for some huge conflicts of interest in some jurisdictions the coroner is also the County Sheriff and that has led to some serious problems in California one doctor quit a County coroner's office claiming that the coroner / sheriff there had repeatedly interfered in cases where the police had used deadly force dr. Bennet Omalu renowned for his expertise on concussions accused San Joaquin County Sheriff and coroner Steve Moore of trying to change autopsy findings in shootings involving his officers that is obviously not good it is hard to trust a death certificate in a death involving police officers when the guy signing it seems to have an active interest in the police not being culpable it is also hard to trust it when the guy signing it looks like Marlon Bongo made a wish to become a real boy and it backfired horribly now now that's sheriff denied doing anything improper but they've since taken corner duties away from the Sheriff's Office which is good because you can't have any suggestion of coziness between death investigators and law enforcement in New Orleans their coroner for decades was frank Minyard who was criticized for frequently finding that people who died in police custody had suffered accidents and when he was confronted over one case in particular he got pretty annoyed when the body of Henry Glover was found in this burned-out car evidence pointed to police officers being responsible for his death but coroner Minyard did not classify it as a homicide and so there was no criminal investigation a burnt-up body inside a burned-out car well to begin with behind a police station okay look at it that way now look at it from my point of view we can't say there's no way I can say that that is a homicide there's no way of telling how why this man died except absolutely is a way to tell how that man died a medical investigation into his death which happens to be your exact job he's like hearing a clown say look there is no way to twist this long skinny balloon into the shape of a dog or a hat really clown if that's true what exactly is the use of you other than psychologically damaging children for the rest of their lives and incidentally that case was later reclassified as a homicide because of course it was and when you take all of this together it is no wonder that medical organizations have been calling for the coroner system to be abolished since 1857 arguing that the person appointed should be a doctor in medicine essentially the medical examiner system which instinctively does sound much better doesn't it although you should know even this system is not perfect remember the place where staff posed for photos with a severed head that was a Medical Examiner's Office the guy who took the brain home for his kids to play with he was and still is a medical examiner and that's not even mentioning the medical examiner at the center of the most fantastic 20/20 interview of all time the other charges that your dog ate one of the bodies spleen and then he also ate a kidney is that true dr. hunt do you even want to respond you can deny this if it's not true it's never happened to me in an ABC News interview before or since but Charles Harlan fell completely silent he didn't get up and leave he just simply stopped talking what are you doing camera no he's not used to dealing with the living but playing dead is just not a legitimate movie the problem is though good medical examiner's can be hard to find because it's not a job that many doctors want you've already seen the problems of underinvestment in the facilities but on top of that state-funded medical examiner's make around half the salary they could in other medical specialties with little potential for tips from satisfied clients and that is that that is just if you're happy with any doctor in the job the best-case scenario is to have board-certified forensic pathologists running these offices and performing autopsies but that is not going to happen anytime soon because there is a dire shortage of those in fact there are only 500 of them currently practicing in the whole United States which is less than half the recommended number and when you combine this starfish shortage with the current opioid crisis causing an increase in bodies that need examining you get assistant that is pushed well past its breaking point in New Jersey a few years back their acting state medical examiner resigned in frustration citing staff shortages as one of the key reasons I felt as I walked in the door they didn't have enough personnel to to handle the load you don't want to come to a family sit I'm sorry ma'am I'm sorry mrs. Smith we couldn't do the investigation that we wanted because we didn't have the resources right he wanted to serve people well but he couldn't and things have frankly not got much better in New Jersey since so for the time being if you do find yourself dying there please write down whatever is killing you on a post-it note and stick it to your chest you only be doing that overstretched investigators are solid thanks the resources crunch is so bad that some offices wind up outsourcing work to private contractors and this is where this story gets absolutely incredible because let me just introduce you to one terrible example of this in Missouri in Kansas a number of coroner's offices wound up hiring a company belonging to this man Shawn Parcells to perform autopsies and why wouldn't they after all he's a guy whose actual license plate says autopsy that's immediately reassuring isn't it they don't just hand out to anyone with a valid government-issued photo ID and $45.00 know unfortunately though there were a few problems with Parcells for starters he's not a forensic pathologist he's not any kind of doctor at all and what he maintains that his firm employs doctors he's been accused of performing illegal autopsies himself and he has frankly left a long trail of problems behind him ourselves has been accused of botching a murder investigation we cannot use any evidence found from the autopsy in a court of law and lying about his credentials did you think he was a doctor why because I tell people all the time I almost became a neurosurgeon that doesn't mean that I'm a doctor that doesn't mean that I was in medical school I really did almost do that what what you almost became a neurosurgeon but didn't which puts you in a special category of literally everyone on earth except neurosurgeons I can also claim I almost became a neurosurgeon which is why my parents and this is true are almost proud of me and if you are wondering why a County coroner's office would hire Shawn's company remember many of them are seriously strapped for cash and one of them explained simply it was the most affordable and Shawn's low rates become understandable when you see one of his autopsy facilities which for some reason he was completely comfortable letting cameras in herself gave us a tour he's proud of this back-alley autopsy lab so this is our the autopsy suite and obviously bathroom there's carpet on the floor what appears to be a lack of organization and this is how containers are labeled and stored I don't know where okay she's over there such as everybody we agreed to not record a woman's body that was unwrapped and unrefrigerated in the back corner the freezers and it couldn't be because there's no walk-in refrigerator inside this makeshift morgue only two small freezers that could be purchased at any big-box store okay okay so what jumps out at me the most about Shawn's tricked-out death hutch isn't the single Glade plugin or the name's Shawn surrounded by green hearts on the white board all the Tupperware containers of baked ziti and all human remains oh the ominous presence of what appears to be a spray bottle of Scrubbing Bubbles multi-surface bathroom cleaner or the absolutely sick lab of nerds poster or the even sicker Albert Einstein poster opposite the room-temperature cadaver or the desktop skull or the unfolded beach towel or even the wall-to-wall carpeting no what gets me is that even within a grifters back-alley autopsy shanty the most objectionable item on display there is somehow that absolutely enormous soldier what are you doing with that thing if you monster this this repurposed ramen container could and I have to assume does contain blood phlegm and embalming fluid and yet it still would be significantly less nauseating than the possibility that he's drinking a 40 of squirt that is that's just me speaking personally as well as correctly and objectively but wait because there is even more here because Parcells has also gotten in trouble for autopsies performed but performed through his private autopsy businesses for which he often failed to produce any sort of report all of which has led to enticing pending criminal charges in Kansas of theft and desecration of bodies and all of this has clearly given him a bad name in the business but rather than stopping what he was doing Shawn Parcells simply stopped being Shawn Parcells and instead started working under the name professor Lin and when that reporter asked him why his answer wasn't great when was used as a nickname honestly I'm being honest here because people would butcher my last name I don't think Parcells is that difficult it's not it really isn't but I've had people say Purcell ease parcel ease mailing you don't have to pronounce it out loud no no okay so then why are you signing things professor Lin it's my middle name I have I have that right so first that's clearly horseshit and second the only person who should be going by his middle name is Hugh Grant whose middle name and this is true is Mungo it's true his actual name is Hugh Mungo Grant and for some reason he chooses not to publicize that like an idiot you're looking a gift horse in the mouth Mongo and look as funny as Parcells it is and he is distractingly inconveniently funny the reality is that he's botched multiple death investigations and the only reason he had the opportunity to do so was because of the big gulp sized holes in our fucked-up death investigation system and the thing is it is not just dramatic consequences of murder investigations being compromised or epidemics potentially being missed even just ordinary delays in processing death certificates can have serious practical consequences for families because ideally you'd want a death certificate within days or weeks but it can take much much longer than that just listen to one woman whose husband had passed away suddenly and who had to wait six months for a cause of death they're not thinking of these families that are waiting in agony waiting to know what happened to their loved ones it's inexcusable to hold up also left Sarah struggling financially because without the death certificate she couldn't collect life insurance to take care of her family I couldn't pay for the mortgage I couldn't I had to rely on donations from friends and family to you it's much more than just a piece of paper yes to me it meant moving on that's awful you shouldn't have to wait that long for something that important it's not like making someone wait eight years to find out who wins the game of Thrones don't tell me who it is yet I haven't seen it but based on the season so far I'm guessing it was Ed Sheeran like they really know how to deliver for the fans don't like so so what should happen now well in an ideal world no one would die I'm certainly never going to and at the risk of sounding too prescriptive I don't think you should either but in a slightly less ideal world we would phase out coroner's offices and replace them with medical examiner's you know the thing that experts have been arguing for since the 1800s and we've have autopsies performed or supervised by board-certified forensic pathologists but that is not going to happen until we address the huge personnel shortage you can't hire forensic pathologists who don't exist so we need to find ways to it to incentivize medical students to become forensic pathologists fire paying them more and by properly funding the offices that they're going to be working and the crazy thing is it wouldn't even cost that much one study recommended bringing public spending on these offices up to a minimum of just three dollars 75 per person per year that is less than the amount of money that we inadvertently annually donate so our couch cushions and look I know this issue is tempting to ignore it combines two things that people hate thinking about the most death and municipal funding and nobody wants to contemplate their own death or the death of their loved one so try and think about this in a more abstract way think about what you would want for a beloved entertainer not me obviously that's the worst possible example think of Beyonce or Ted Danson or Glenn Close do you want Glenn Close to wind up in Shawn Parcells autopsy dungeon or having her spleen being eaten by a dog of course not she's a seven-time Oscar nominee and she doesn't want that to happen either do you Glenn no I don't want my spleen eaten by a dog show my spleen some respect [Applause] Glenn Close deserves three things two Oscars and not to have her spleen in by a dog that's the very least America can do for her and look we can and we should improve our death investigation system for Glenn Close and for every other person in the country not just because it's important which it is not just because it could save lives which it could but because all it will cost us is roughly the same price as an extra-large big dog and now this and now a message about the importance of death investigations from Tracy Morgan Tracy Morgan and Oh can I talk about something for a minute we all know that one day we all will be on this planet we're gonna die I don't know how I'm gonna die but I know it's not gonna be by Walmart when my time does come I don't want to end up in a basement dungeon on some dudes autopsy table standing over me with a butter knife in a dull spoon and an ice cream scooper I don't want these things and please please don't let someone take my brains home to play with that's not a good thing and I love this woman I'm telling you right now I cannot have some dog out here eating Glenn Close to the spleen Glenn Close is an American treasure I love you in Albert Nobbs that's why we need you here all it's gonna take us $3.75 to save Glenn Close explain but you want to save us play me down as a sunny five cent who don't got that $3.75 all it takes get out my house [Applause]

28 Comments found

User

Mohammed Hassouneh

Tracy's award display case 😂😂

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User

Greg Gasiorowski

I would pay good money to watch a dog eat Glen Close's spleen!

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User

Tim Brown

Who's John Oliver?

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User

8Zeit8Geist8

IF HE JUST WOULD STOP USING THE "DEVIL WORTHSHIPPING" HAND ALL THE TIME 🙁 HE WOULD REALY BE A GOOD GUY BUT SO HE IS JUST THE SAME AS EVERYONE ELSE IN THIS EVIL SAD WORLD 😛 R.I.P. NEW BABYLON :/

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User

Clint Davis

Expect a call from Squirt's legal team in the near future.

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User

Alexander Galliano

barlon mungo

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User

The Mad Hacker

"look to your right, look to your left, both of those people are eligible to become a coroner" sees my cat "uh oh…"

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User

spoot

4:19 when Halloween happens on Friday the 13th

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Voz

And please welcome 2 time Super Bowl winning coach, Bill Lynn!!!! (I know it's Parcels, but the "S" stands for the 2nd SB)

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Charlie PB

how people in the US live is beyond me ….

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DataProwler

I keep processing "Board-certified forensic pathologists" as "Bored, certified forensic pathologists".

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PootyTangRunnyKine

Select "organ donor" on your driver's license

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User

zahra zarqaa

I feel john picked this topic just to make a bunch of (albeit hilarious) dead ppl jokes

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Trevor Sinlao

John oliver back at it again trying hard to support issues that almost no one knows about

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User

Afi Salahuddin

I can't believe that mufaka jus STOPPED TALKING. PERIOD.🤣🤣🤣 What grown adult professional male person does that?😂🙄…wp

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Leonard M

14:28 THICCCCCCC

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Entelin

When I'm dead feed me to some flowers, if some dogs dig some of me up for a meal, whatever. If some kids want to check out my brain, cool. Why does it matter?

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Architectural Hardware Solutions SA

You should investigate how family members cheat others out of living family assets…happens alot!

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User

Anna Athena

I'm just glad I'm not the only person that remembers Forever

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User

twiWright25

I still can't afford to get into USC

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Chris Ide

I swear every time I go to plug USB its "try it won't fit flip it around still wont fit flip it back and now it's ready to fit….maybe my PC just needs the foreplay…

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frater chaos

what, no hashtag #saveglennclosesspleen ????

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Daniel Martinez

i liked forever

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Gretchen Hubbert

And yet the so-called prescription opiate epidemic and the new War on Pain Relief is based entirely on this death investigation mess. C'mon, John. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid and investigate the CDC's opiate hoax already. It's time.

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organicgrains

Ummmmmm BONES!?!?!

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Sean Whearty

15:15. To be fair, that could be tea

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Frank Franklin

I wish someone could punch this pompous arrogant know it all limy deuche right in nose!!

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PorQpine215

i think i found the interview with charles harlan but OHHH NOOO abc news cant have their video WORK that would be INSANE no kek for PorQpine215 once again

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