Dr. Werner Spitz, a pathologist whose accounts of the traumatic final moments in a few of the most sensational American deaths of the previous 60 years figured in circumstances involving President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., O.J. Simpson, JonBenet Ramsey, Mary Jo Kopechne and plenty of others, died on April 14 in St. Clair Shores, Mich., a suburb of Detroit. He was 97.

He died in hospice care after a quick sickness, his son Dr. Daniel Spitz mentioned.

Dr. Spitz’s profession of greater than 60 years traced to the early days of recent forensic pathology, and his textbook on the subject stays a gold customary within the subject. Even after retiring because the chief medical expert of Macomb County, Mich., in 2004, he continued to carry out autopsies and seek the advice of with legal professionals, saying he had no real interest in spending his later years {golfing} or fishing. Inspecting the stays of murder victims was the one factor that didn’t bore him, he said.

Dr. Spitz used proof of a tiny cranium fracture, the sample of blouse fibers round a bullet gap or the sticky aspect of a bit of duct tape to attract conclusions about violent deaths that weighed closely within the courtroom destiny of homicide defendants — or, within the circumstances of President Kennedy and Dr. King, on the judgment of historical past.

Dr. Spitz was an knowledgeable witness for each prosecutors and protection legal professionals, saying he by no means provided an opinion merely for a worth however adopted the place the scientific proof led. However he was additionally drawn to the limelight in a few of the nation’s most sensational deaths.

Though he by no means examined the physique of JonBenet Ramsey, the kid magnificence contestant killed in Colorado in 1996, Dr. Spitz accused her brother, Burke Ramsey, of the homicide twenty years later in a tv documentary and a radio interview.

“When you actually, actually use your free time to consider this case, you can not come to a unique conclusion,” he advised the radio station CBS Detroit, in response to an article included in a defamation lawsuit that Mr. Ramsey filed in opposition to Dr. Spitz in 2016, looking for $150 million.

The declare referred to as Dr. Spitz a “publicity seeker” whose “vicious, unsupported assaults” brought about “psychological anguish” to Mr. Ramsey, who had been cleared as a suspect by the authorities. The swimsuit was settled.

Within the Seventies, whereas he was the chief medical expert of Wayne County, Mich., which incorporates Detroit, Dr. Spitz was named an adviser to the Home Choose Committee on Assassinations, which re-examined the murders of President Kennedy and Dr. King at a time of rising suspicions of presidency and swirling conspiracy theories.

Given entry to paint images of the president’s physique, his clothes and medical experiences, Dr. Spitz was deeply vital of the unique Navy pathologists from 1963. “They botched that post-mortem,” he told The Detroit Free Press in 2013. “They’d no expertise in forensic pathology.”

Nonetheless, his conclusions — together with these of different consultants on the Home panel — confirmed the findings of the Warren Fee in 1964, that President Kennedy was shot by two bullets fired from behind. The panel discovered that there was no medical proof that he was caught in a crossfire by a second shooter firing from a grassy knoll, a idea that arose after the discharge in 1975 of Abraham Zapruder’s house film of the assassination.

In Dr. King’s assassination, Dr. Spitz and two different forensic pathologists likewise agreed with the unique evaluation of that authorities that the civil rights chief was slain by a single shot from a high-velocity rifle.

When Senator Edward M. Kennedy careened off a bridge in Chappaquiddick, Mass., in 1969, killing Mary Jo Kopechne, his passenger, her household sought to halt an exhumation of her physique for an post-mortem. Dr. Spitz, then a medical expert in Baltimore, testified on behalf of her dad and mom that an post-mortem couldn’t make clear whether or not drowning or different accidents brought about the dying, and that an exhumation can be pointless. The decide agreed.

Werner Uri Spitz was born on Aug. 22, 1926, in Stargard, Germany (now a part of Poland) to Siegfried and Anna (Faktor) Spitz, each of whom had been physicians.

His dad and mom, who had been Jewish, escaped the specter of Nazism by shifting earlier than World Warfare II to Obligatory Palestine (now Israel), touring on a ship crammed with Jewish physicians and their households. Werner attended medical faculty in Geneva and Jerusalem, graduating from Hebrew College Hadassah Medical College in 1953.

He gravitated to pathology for its component of detective work. However for a forensic pathologist — working on the intersection of medication and crime — Israel provided meager alternatives. In seven years, Dr. Spitz later recalled, he investigated just one homicide: the stabbing dying of a bagel vendor by a rival bagel maker.

After emigrating to america in 1959, nonetheless, he was employed as assistant chief medical expert for Maryland, based mostly in Baltimore, and located no scarcity of homicides to research.

In 1961, he married Anne Keates, who survives him. Along with her and his son Daniel, who can be a pathologist, Dr. Spitz is survived by one other son, Dr. Jonathan Spitz, a surgeon; a daughter, Rhona Dempsey, a lawyer; and 10 grandchildren. He lived in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich.

In 1973, Dr. Spitz and a collaborator, Russell Fisher, printed “Medicolegal Investigation of Dying: Tips for the Utility of Pathology to Crime Investigation,” which established Dr. Spitz as a founder of recent forensic pathology. Later editions included a brand new co-author, his son Daniel, who as a boy spirited his father’s guide to the basement to pore over its graphic images.

Dr. Spitz’s nationwide popularity lengthy ensured that he was in demand as an knowledgeable witness in a few of the nation’s most high-profile homicide circumstances.

After O.J. Simpson was acquitted in legal court docket of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her buddy Ronald Goldman, Dr. Spitz testified in a civil case that small cuts on Mr. Simpson’s left hand had been attributable to Ms. Simpson’s fingernails as she fought for her life. A jury discovered Mr. Simpson chargeable for wrongful dying.

Within the trial of a Florida girl, Casey Anthony, who had been accused of murdering her toddler daughter, Caylee, in 2008, Dr. Spitz was a witness for the protection, which argued that the lady had drowned. Dr. Spitz undermined a key piece of the state’s murder cost by testifying that duct tape, which prosecutors mentioned was used to suffocate Caylee, had been utilized after she was already lifeless. He maintained that if she had been alive, there would have been traces of pores and skin on the tape’s sticky aspect. Ms. Anthony was acquitted.

And in a high-profile homicide case in New York Metropolis in 1986, Dr. Spitz was the important thing prosecution witness in opposition to Robert E. Chambers Jr., whom tabloids referred to as the “preppy killer” of Jennifer Levin, 18, whose half-clothed physique was present in Central Park. Mr. Chambers advised the police that he had by chance killed Miss Levin throughout consensual intercourse that went too far.

However Dr. Spitz testified that Mr. Chambers strangled Ms. Levin by twisting her shirt right into a noose. The protection lawyer, throughout a cross-examination that was a shouting match, accused Dr. Spitz of switching sides, saying that he had first advised him a unique idea of the dying.

After 9 days of deliberation during which the jury couldn’t attain a verdict, Mr. Chambers pleaded responsible to a lesser cost.

At age 95, two years earlier than his dying, Dr. Spitz advised Time that he didn’t recoil from the examination of human stays, however mentioned that the details of some deaths had a haunting energy.

“It isn’t actually a matter of it being laborious for me to do it, as a result of I’ve completed a lot of such circumstances,” he mentioned. “However I then go house and fall asleep, and I dream about it, and it’s horrible.”



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