Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Coroner: Man found in burning car died from ‘self-inflicted’ wound

October 11, 2017


The injury that caused the death of a man whose body was found in a burning car near Clinton Lake was “consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” the coroner determined.

A gun compatible with the injury was found in the car next to the body, according to the autopsy report, obtained by the Journal-World. The man was dead before being engulfed by fire, based on carbon monoxide levels in the blood and anatomical material recovered from the scene, according to the autopsy report.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office investigation into the death concluded that foul play was not suspected, Sgt. Kristen Channel said, responding to an inquiry from the newspaper this week.

Shortly before noon March 7, deputies were dispatched to a car fire at Rockhaven Campground, 1046 East 700 Road. Once the fire was extinguished, a body was discovered inside the vehicle.

A family member’s DNA was taken, tested and compared with the deceased to confirm the man’s identity, according to the autopsy report.

The sheriff’s office said the body was that of a 45-year-old Independence, Mo., man.

Contact public safety reporter Sara Shepherd
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Bob Forer 7 months, 1 week ago

Lol. How can a coroner distinguish between a self inflicted gunshot wound and an execution style wound where the assassin dumps the gun on the body.

And how did the fire start? If the person was dead before the fire started based on CO2 blood levels then it suggests a third party set the fire.

This investigation stinks to high heaven.

Steve Dieker 7 months, 1 week ago

Say I want to kill myself but I am worried the gunshot will only injure me just enough I get to live in a nursing home for 20 years so I light my car on fire then shoot myself, one or the other will surely kill me. Makes perfect sense to me.

Bob Forer 7 months, 1 week ago

Sure that is a possibility. But it is probably less statistically likely than the scenario I suggested.. And how do you rule out my scenario in favor of yours.

Unless they are withholding facts from the public, this simply does not add up.

I would be more comfortable with a finding from a forensic pathologist as opposed to the county coroner.

Matt Daigh 7 months, 1 week ago

From WebMD: Dr. Erik K. Mitchell graduated from the SUNY Upstate Medical University in 1976. He works in Kansas City, KS and specializes in Forensic Pathology and Anatomic Pathology. Dr. Mitchell is the county coroner for Douglas County.

Bob Forer 7 months, 1 week ago

I didn't know Mitchell was the coroner. He is very competent. He did autopsies on several murders I prosecuted.

Perhaps there is evidence of suicide that is not mentioned in this article.

Chelsea Kapfer 7 months, 1 week ago

I want to know what the cause of death was on the autopsy report

Bob Forer 7 months, 1 week ago

Since the CO2 levels in the blood were insufficient to indicate asphyxiation by fire, my guess is that it was a single gunshot wound to the head.

Bert Williams 7 months, 1 week ago

Good thing nobody cares what you want to know, Chelsea. If you need further information then you can FOIA it like everybody else. Anyone with half a brain can read between the lines in this story. You most likely wouldn’t shoot yourself after you burned alive. So if I was a betting man I would say he started a fire in the vehicle and then shot himself. Everything isn’t a conspiracy. 9-11 did happen, we have been to the moon, and the fluoride in the water isn’t going to turn you into a reptilian lizard person.

Marcia Epstein 7 months, 1 week ago

So many people in Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, USA,... are affected by suicide in one or more ways: having lost loved ones to suicide, living with suicidal thoughts and/or attempts, and being a loving support person to someone affected by suicide. So let us please show the compassion that we hope we would experience from others.

And if you want to learn more about that, you are most welcome to participate in the free community workshop on International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, which is the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Saturday, November 18 from 10:00am - 1:00pm at First Church, 946 Vermont in Lawrence.

Richard Aronoff 7 months, 1 week ago

How about this: the deceased poured gasoline all over the inside of the car, closed the Windows and pulled the trigger. The muzzle flash would have ignited the gasoline fumes.

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