Terri Schiavo to be Autopsied

Michael Schiavo’s attorneys have issued a statement saying Terri Schiavo will be autopsied after her death in order to put to rest charges made by her parents that she was abused and not really brain damaged.

Schiavo to Undergo Autopsy to End Debate — Lawyer (Reuters)

The husband of brain-damaged Florida woman Terri Schiavo has ordered an autopsy after she dies to silence allegations his plan to cremate her body is aimed at hiding something, his lawyer said on Monday. As supporters of Schiavo’s parents took their fight to prolong her life to Washington 10 days after her feeding was stopped, Michael Schiavo’s lawyer, George Felos, said her pulse had become “thready” and she had not passed urine for a while — a possible sign of approaching death.

He said Michael Schiavo, who has been pitted against the parents in a seven-year legal conflict over whether to allow Schiavo to die, requested an official autopsy to show the “massive” extent of the brain damage she suffered in 1990. “We didn’t think it was appropriate to talk about an autopsy prior to Mrs. Schiavo’s death,” Felos told reporters outside his law office in Dunedin, Florida. “But because claims have been made by, I guess, opponents of carrying out her wishes that there was some motive behind the cremation of Mrs. Schiavo we felt it was necessary to make that announcement today.”

Probably a necessary move on Schiavo’s part, not that he’ll ever hear the end of the idiotic charges from the Schindlers and their zealot supporters.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Hal says:

    Now, don’t be dissing the base.

  2. bryan says:

    Probably a necessary move on Schiavo’s part, not that he’ll ever hear the end of the idiotic charges from the Schindlers and their zealot supporters

    I think you’re getting a little “zealot”-esque on this issue yourself, James.

    I’m glad the autopsy will be performed, if for no other reason than it might provide a little closure for some people who are upset about the slow dehydration of this woman.

    However, it’s not going to be the end for people who believe she shouldn’t have been killed in the first place.

  3. John Burgess says:

    How many courts will be involved in disposing of the autopsy issue, I wonder? I see clashes in a) who does the autopsy (will it be three doctors, one for each party and another for the court?); b) who does the “anallysis” of the autopsy; c) who files charges based on a particular interpretation of the autopsy report.

    And will it now become a matter of federal law?

    This could, with a lot of bad will, stretch perhaps into the next decade, if not the next century.

  4. Just Me says:

    Well his decision is moot anyway, since he is having her body cremated, by Florida law there has to be an autopsy.

  5. Maggie says:

    You’re right, Just Me, Michael’s coming off like he ORDERED the autopsy…it was ordered by the County. I don’t think he has any way out of it now…..since he fought in court to get her cremated. Wonder if he’s hoping nothing will be found…kinda of like the idiots who are guilty but still take the lie detector test!

  6. Copper says:

    I’m sure the parents will make a federal case out of it if the results are not what they wanted. They are so desperate to prove that something happened and refuse to see that their daughter’s brain damaged was caused by her eating problems.

  7. Barbara says:

    Is it possible the medical examiner would be paid off by Felos and Shiavo? I think it is possible. Also, this “so called husband” needs to take a lie detector test and lets see if he agrees to it.Something to hide he won’t–nothing to hid he should. I think the next thing to do if Terri doesn’t make it is to press civil and/or criminal charges against Shiavo and others(like Judge Greer.

  8. Barbara says:

    I’m reading on other sites that some people have taken Michael’s words that this is Terri’s wish.Have any of them ever thought he could have taken what she said out of context or he is a outright liar? There appears to be enough corruption in this county to fill Florida. Why didn’t he reveal what she said(if she did) to him right away instead of waiting many years.I thought I heard on cable TV that it is Florida law that a autopsy has to be done if cremation is done and “so called husband” is taking credit that he wants this. Right!!!


    TO late Michael Schiavo did your slick attorney Felos over look Florida law about CREMATION and AUTOPSY ? you don’t have a choice about the autopsy. but I have to give you credit FELOS you will fool lots of people out there that it was Michael idea.


  10. Chris says:

    For anyone who doubts, below is the pertinent part of Florida Code § 406.11(1)(c):

    406.11 Examinations, investigations, and autopsies

    (1) In any of the following circumstances involving the death of a human being, the medical examiner of the district in which the death occurred or the body was found shall determine the cause of death and shall, for that purpose, make or have performed such examinations, investigations, and autopsies as he or she shall deem necessary or as shall be requested by the state attorney:

    * * *

    (c) When a body is to be cremated,

    The question of course is why Mr. Schiavo would “order” an autopsy which, most likely, is a foregone conclusion?

  11. jade says:

    Michael Schiavo has possibly two motivations for appearing to order this autopsy.

    1. As having trained as a nurse he has significant medical knowledge that his denial of
    the regenerative therapies and stimulation resulted in further brain damage (use it or lose it concept) No doubt the autopsy will show serious degeneration.
    2. If there is an insurance policy the insurance company may require autopsy to pay out.

    The hope of any who believe that her condition resulted from trauma and this will be revealed is that the autopsy will reveal the results of the trauma of multiple broken bones thus verifying that Terri’s condition resulted due to trauma. There is no indication that she had ever been diagnosed with any eating disorder. The Doctor who was sued under this claim was later able to overturn this in court. Besides Dr. Baden who is a well reknowned forensic pathologist reviewed the original bone scans and gave his opinion that unless she had been in a horrific car accident there should of been and should still be a full investigation to determine the cause of the significant evidence of trauma.
    There is some descrepancy in the timeline reported of this bone scan. If it in fact was done upon her arrival at the hospital the night of her injury he is screwed to put it bluntly. However if it was done some months later as Greer purports he will then blame incompetent hospital workers for these injuries. Hopefully there is
    a way to determine within narrow range the age of the injuries.
    Also learned today that an individual from DCF did an investigation where abuse prior to hospitalization was alledged and the worker was basically informed that DCF was not going to follow through and the report was quashed with reccomendations. A superior of this investigator
    sent the lengthy report (that they were ordered to dispose of back to the investigator with a notation (I was ordered to destroy this sending it to you in this box to protect fingerprints. Hold on to it you may need it).
    If true that means this is not over….

  12. Bill says:

    Misread the law, the ME ALWAYS has final
    say on performing an autopsy.

    The law quoted just means the ME has the
    discretion to perform an autopsy, NOT
    that everyone who gets cremated is autopsied.

    Most of the posters here clearly never bothered
    to read Dr. Walker’s deposition, where he
    admits the alleged injuries he saw could just
    have easily been caused by efforts of the
    paramedics to resuscitate her, and the subsequent
    year of physical therapy.

    The autopsy will only confirm the enormous
    brain damage already shown on her CT scan.