Deputy ME Dr. Roy’s testimony the jury did not hear

Dr. Roy said that he had never had his deposition taken before in this fashion.
     Roy said, “The jaws were removed for further dental identification. Dr. Ryan and myself had briefly charted the fillings to see if they were compatible with the information we had and we felt they were, so we were going to proceed with more definitive identification beyond this. We felt that it probably was Micheal Cochran, and we wanted a dentist to confirm this.”
     “Now, you said you felt it was probably Micheal Cochran at the time of the autopsy. Could you tell me what you based that on, at that time?”
     “Mainly the comparison of the dental work with the chart.”
     “Okay. You were provided with a [dental] chart [Exhibit #10 & #11] of Micheal Cochran’s history at that time,” Popkin said.
     “I don’t know if we had it at that time. What we did was chart it. I cannot specifically recall the details. It was quite a long time ago [nine years]. But the fillings were charted, and most likely were compared over the phone with the dentist’s charts. He might have— “
     When you say that you suspect that is what happened, was it your routine to proceed that way?”
     “At the time it was. Now we try and obtain all of these records when a person is reported missing, so we have them on hand right at the time of the examination,” Dr. Roy explained.  1

Didn’t test for carbon monoxide

Mr. Popkin asked, “Was carbon monoxide something that you could observe at the time of the autopsy in any way?”
     “One thing that can be done is what is called a carbon monoxide screening test where you dilute some blood and subject it to 10 percent sodium hydroxide and watch for the coloration—it works very well for us”
     “Did you find evidence of carbon monoxide in Mr. Cochran’s blood then, on February 25th?”
     “I don't recall if I did that test.”

Death certificate

 “Now, let me show you what has been marked as Roy Deposition Exhibit #3 and ask if you can identify that for me.”
     “Well, it is an extract from the Department of Vital Records of a death certificate.”
     “Okay. Did you make out the death certificate?”
     “Yes, I did.” “... [D]oes it bear a copy of your signature?”
     “It has my name on it. It’s not my signature.”    2

 Another death certificate

3    “Okay. Let me show you Roy Deposition Exhibit #6 and ask whether you can identify that.”
     “Yes. That is the death certificate that I filled out on February 25th.”
     “Okay. Now, just examining it here, on February 25th, you listed the immediate cause as inhalation of products of combustion including carbon monoxide, the cause of death.”
     “Yes.”    3

Changed to homicide 96 days after cremation.

“Okay. And let me show you what has been marked as Roy Deposition Exhibit #7 and ask you to identify that.”
     “This is a copy of what we call a supplemental cause of death which we issue when there is further alteration to be done or amendments to be made to the original death certificate; and this one indicates that I have changed item 28(a), the manner, to homicide.”
     “Okay. Was there any manner that was previously listed?”
     “...Yes, pending investigation on the original certificate.”
     “And then by June 1st, 1981, you have changed that to homicide?” [96 days after cremation]
     “That’s right.” 

Identification recorded 63 days after cremation

“Now, what, if anything, did you do to continue to pin down the identification of the victim as Micheal Cochran?”
     “... The jaws were removed, and all of this material was sent to a Dr. Seidel, who is a dentist, for further comparison and verification.”
     “And at that point, what was the process that you expected to take place?”
     “Well, I expected Dr. Seidel to compare the dental charting with the actual specimens—preferably to take postmortem x-rays and compare them with any premortem x-rays that might be available; and on the basis of all of these to tell us whether he felt this was Micheal Cochran.”
     “Okay. I’d like to show you what has been marked as Roy Deposition Exhibit #4 and ask if you would identify that.”
     “This is a report from Dr. Seidel.”  4

Deputy ME Roy saw two bodies severely charred

 “... you have said that the body was severely charred. I would like to represent to you that the fire marshal had an opinion that gasoline was probably poured directly on the body  from the degree of charring. Would that be something that you would defer to him on?”
     “Well, I don’t know that I could prove that. Certainly in review of several fire cases, I have seen bodies as charred as this where I don’t think that as the mechanism.”
     “Okay. Did you know in those cases whether the mechanism was the body falling into and being packed in the embers?”
     “Well, two of them that I’m aware of where there was damage as severe as this was—one in an automobile and the other was in a trailer; smaller spaces.”  
     “Would—in reaching that kind of opinion—the best of the fire and the amount of time that the body was subjected to the heat would be important variables?”
     “That, I think, is the most important factor in causing a body to be severely charred, is just the length of time in which they are exposed to high heat.”
     “And someone who was familiar with the actual fire would need to review the history of the event, in other words, the history of the fire how long the fire was burning, how quickly it was put out—factors such as that in order to decide whether it was probable that there was some accelerant poured directly on the body.”   5
     “Well, I don’t really know. I am not a fire marshal.

Deputy ME Roy didn’t test the tissues for gas

“My question was, would you defer to a fire marshal’s opinion on a subject like that?

     “Well, he’s entitled to make that opinion. I’m not sure I would agree with it from examination of the body. I would take another approach to prove that.”
     “Okay. Well, what would be your approach?”
     “Well, I think the body tissues and possibly the blood should be examined for gasoline itself.”
     “Okay. And was that done in this case?”

Deputy ME Roy saw two photos of charred bodies

“Okay. So would you know anything at this point to contradict the fire marshal’s opinion in this particular case?”
     “I don’t know if there would be anything that would contradict it.”
     “Okay. You simply don’t have enough information at your disposal to say one way or the other?”
     “The only answer I have for you in regard to this question is that I have seen bodies in other fires that are as severely charred as this. It is not uncommon.”
     “...You said there were two fires that you recall?”
     “Two that I can recall that I was able to look at photographs of recently and say, yes, these are as badly charred as others.”

Defense Attorney Glazier stipulates body is Micheal Cochran

“One thing I would like to ask you generally, though, is that all of these exhibits that we have been looking at, are they copies that that have been made from ... the State of Maine’s medical examiner’s office which we subpoenaed and you brought here?’
     “Yes, it is.”  6
     Glazier said, “Let me just make a general objection, that all of the information from this point on may be information beyond this doctor’s capability to answer, especially where he sent it off to a dentist, I guess, to look at the dental chart; and in the event that becomes a problem, I would object to any further evidence given by Dr. Roy. However, if we agree and it is stipulated it was Micheal Cochran who died in the fire, which it most likely would have been, I will waive my objection. We can go into trial without getting this onto the record.”

Exhibit letters searching for identification of Mike

Popkin said, “I think we were talking about Deposition Exhibit #4, which purports to be a letter to Henry Ryan from John C. Seidel, a dentist in Portland, dated April 27th, 1981. Again, could you tell me what the purpose of that letter was and, you know, how it came to be written to you or to Dr. Ryan in your office?”
     “... [H[e made comparison of these various specimens and then concluded in his opinion the dental record marked Micheal Cochran is that of the specimen in our number ML-81-178, which is our number for the Micheal Cochran autopsy.”
     “Let me show you what has been marked as Roy Deposition Exhibit #5 and ask if you can identify that from your file?”
     Roy said “This is the dental identification record which we supply to the dentist. ... Dr. Seidel has charted the dental work done on the jaws removed from the body. So this is postmortem dental charting.”   7
      “Now let me show you what has been marked as Deposition Exhibit #8, Roy #8, there is at least four pages [letters] and ask if you would, please, identify whether it comes from your file and just quickly skim through it and tell me what it is.”
     “Yes. These are a series of correspondence. There are three letters from Dr. Ryan and one from Dr. Seidel.”
     “And this is all in regard to the dental identification of Mr. Cochran?”
     “That’s right.”   7

Deputy ME Roy didn’t have Mike’s medical records at time of autopsy

“Now, did you have some medical records of Micheal Cochran that were given to you?”
     Dr. Roy replied, “I have some medical records. I don’t recall if I did anything with them or not.”
     “Did you, at any point, make a determination whether it be what you observed at autopsy was consistent or inconsistent with the medical records that you had obtained?”
     “No, I did not.”

Dr. Roy knows of one case of gas poured on a person

“Have you ever examined a person involved in a fire where gasoline has been actually poured on the person; have you ever done that?”
     “I have experience with a case of self-inhalation where a person poured gasoline on themselves out of doors and lit themselves on fire.”
     “What was the carbon monoxide in that case?”
     “I can’t specifically recall the level, but I do recall it was not high.”

Deputy ME Roy can’t recall unburned floor

"And was there a bit of unburned floor underneath the body?”
     “I don’t recall. Unless I described that, I can’t tell you. I don’t know.”

Dr. Roy admits Mike was exposed to high heat

“Okay. And you also mentioned somewhere in here that there was some calcine on the ends of the missing extremities. What does that mean?”
     “Well, that’s a change in the bone where basically the protein content is cooked out as a result of exposure to high heat.”
     “Do you always find that in fires?”
     “Okay. Does that indicate extremely high heat?”
     “Well, it indicates that the body was in proximity to significant heat as opposed to bodies which might be found in another portion of the house that are slightly charred and have a lot of soot, may have some heat fractures or heat contracture but they generally don’t get calcine. They are not that close to the heat source.
     “Just to go back to that last point on this business of determining whether or not gasoline was poured on the body. Would it be important—first of all, is that a call that you have ever made within your professional experience?”
     “Yes. I had a homicide fire death, arson, where there was gasoline involved; and gasoline was detected in the tissues, in the blood.”
     “Okay. In that case, you tested the blood and the tissues directly for the gasoline?”
     “That’s right.”
     “Okay. Now, would you want to know how long the body had been exposed to the heat if you—what I am asking is if you were trying to make a call directly from the body itself?”
     “I don’t know if that information would mean much to me, first of all; and, secondly, if the heat is high enough, it could be a brief duration, but be high enough to produce the same effect.”

Roy testifies that his opinion is comparable to 42 yr. FI Ricker’s opinion

“Okay. Now in terms of stacking your opinion up against that of a fire marshal who had investigated fires uniquely for 42 years and that was their only expertise, would you respect the opinion of the fire marshal who made a professional call on that issue?”
     “I think it would be a rather neutral thing. He is entitled to his opinion, but I would also point out to him that I have seen other cases [two photos] of bodies almost as badly burnt as this or as badly burned as this that there was not that suspicion.”
     “Okay. Thank you.”

Notes 1-7
1    This was nine years after Mike' murder and the first information I had that Mike had not been positively identified when his body was returned to us for cremation and that Mike’s upper and lower jaws bones had not been returned with the rest of his body because he was not positively identified.
     The following permit to cremate a dead body was drafted on, February 26, 1981, the day I consented  to cremate (after being advised by Mr. Charles Thomas that cremation was best) what was left of my dear son’s badly burned body.

     This permit was given to the crematory and signed by a doctor. “I have made personal inquiry into the cause and manner of death of the above named person and I am satisfied that no further examination or judicial inquiry concerning this death is necessary. Permission is hereby granted to cremate the dead body of the person named hereon.
     I questioned Attorney Popkin about how this could happen but he dismissed it like it was of no importance. After getting no satisfaction from my attorney concerning Mike not being identified when his body was returned to his family for cremation, I went to the crematory in Bangor to ask how this could happen. The gentleman there said he had no answer for me. He said that a body was not to be cremated until it was identified and the death had been fully investigated. 
     believe we never would have been told this if I hadn’t brought suit against Paul Pollard and subpoenaed records from the Chief Medical Examiner’s office. I asked Mr. Popkin what was done with Mike’s jaw bones. He said they were still at the CME’s office. I was shocked. I called the CME’s office and was assured that I could pick up the remainder of Mike’s remains at my convenience.  I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew that I wasn’t going to allow them to dispose of the rest of Mike’s remains. (I wasn’t told at that time that I wouldn’t be allowed to pick up the remains myself. If I had, I would have taken care of it sooner.). I was so afraid they would dispose of Mike’s jremains before I could decide what to do, that I kept in touch with the CME’s office reminding them not to dispose of Mike’s remains because I would be there to get them.
     At the time of Mike’s murder, we hadn’t  purchased a burial plot in a cemetery. After Mike’s murder, in the spring of 1981, we bought a plot in a country cemetery many miles from home and buried his ashes there. For years I had wanted to move Mike’s urn to a cemetery closer to home. It was the spring of 2002 before we purchased plots in Bangor’s famous Mount Hope Cemetery. I then finally got the courage to finish the awful task of having the rest of Mike’s remains buried—21 years after his murder.
     I then contacted the CME’s office and said I was ready to pick up Mike’s jaw bones.  I was told that I would not be allowed to pick up Mike’s remains and that someone from the CME’s office would transport Mike’s remains to Bangor. I was told before his remains could be delivered to the cemetery caretaker I first needed to write a letter to Jim Ferland at the CME’s office, giving him permission to transfer Mike’s remains to Bangor for burial: I sent a letter to Mr. Ferland giving him permission to deliver to Jerry Hughes my son's remains that had been held at the medical examiner's office for 21 years.  After Mike’s remains were delivered to Jerry Hughes, he transported them along with the urn to Mount Hope Cemetery. I was told that the soil would not be permanently replaced until I came to the cemetery and saw that the urn had been placed in the ground. I could not handle this myself, my son Derry helped me; I had never seen the urn that Mike’s ashes were placed in and still couldn’t. I stayed in the car and watched Derry go to the grave and lift the sod. When he dropped the sod, he remained in his squatted position looking off in the distance. After a while he came back to the car and said, “Mom, there is just a paper bag in there on top of the urn.” I had assumed that the remains would be put in the urn with the ashes but that hadn’t been done. We both agreed that something had to be done about it and drove the long winding road to the office and said that we were not pleased with the way Mike’s remains had been handled. We were told that the remains wouldn’t fit into the urn. I said we should have been made aware of that rather than just throw them in the ground in a paper bag. We then bought another small urn for Mike’s jaw bones that had been lying around for 21 years. My son, my son, oh my God, my son!   1 
2   Exhibit #3 death certificate is not from the Department of Vital Records and Dr. Roy did not make it out. Six months after Mike’s death, August 14, 1981, I drove to the Dedham Town Office (the town where Mike was murdered) and asked for a copy of Mike’s death certificate. While I waited, the clerk hand wrote limited information on a blank Certified Abstract of a Certificate of Death. She signed it and gave it to me. Mike’s DOB is listed as 10/4/54 rather than his actual birth date of 10/4/56; my name is misspelled; and she also misspelled homicide. The certificate states cause of death as: “Inhalation of products of combustion including carbon monoxide homocide [again misspelled].” I didn’t dispute the errors or ask questions. I just took it and walked out. My sister Mae was with me that day and I remember telling her that she wrote homicide on the certificate.
3   Exhibit #6 death certificate is filled out and it has Mike’s name, sex, birth date (again the birth date is wrong), and county of death. Date pronounced dead is listed as around noon on February 24, 1981. Under immediate cause (of death) it states “Inhalation of products of combustion including carbon monoxide:” And under describe how injury occurred it states: “Trapped in hiuse [sic] fire.” It is signed by Deputy ME Dr. Ronald P Roy. It also lists “Pend[ing] Inv[estigation].”
      The next day, February 25, 1981, a permit to cremate a dead body was generated that states: “I have made personal inquiry into the cause and manner of death of the above named person and I am satisfied that no further examination or judicial inquiry concerning this death is necessary.” This is signed by Henry Litz, MD (I could never find him. I was told he was overseas.).     
4   Exhibit #4 is a letter dated April 27, 1981 from John C. Seidel, D.M.D. to CME Henry F. Ryan, M.D. The letter has a received stamp dated April 29, 1981 [63 days after cremation.]. It states: Based on a comparison between the postmortem dental charting of the specimen marked 81-178 and the written dental record marked Micheal Cochran, the missing teeth and the restorations are exactly the same, therefore, it is my opinion that the dental record marked Micheal Cochran is that of the specimen marked ML 81-178.    
5     Mike was still breathing. His blood contained a carbon monoxide level of "46% of saturation.”
6     There were 11 exhibits, but only Exhibit #1 (Autopsy Report) and Exhibit #2: (Toxicology Report) were shown to the jury. All the letters and the supplemental cause of death from February 25, 1981 until June 1, 1981 concerning identification of Mike were omitted.
7   Exhibit #5 is the dental identification supplied to the dentist. The report was received at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office on April 10, 1981. 43 days after cremation.   
Exhibit #8-1 is a letter dated March 4, 1981 from Dr. Henry Ryan to Dr. John C. Seidel, D.M.D. This letter was composed 6 days after the cremation: "Included with this case are films from the Eastern Maine Medical Center and x-rays (2) and chart from the Maine Youth Center. The jaws are from a burned body found 2–24–81 in Dedham, Maine off the Sumac Road. They are of a young white male whose body was found in a burned out residence. The fire is regarded as arson. Maine State Police are investigating.
Exhibit #8-2 is a letter dated May 21, 1981 from Dr. Henry Ryan to Dr. John C. Seidel, D.M.D. This letter was composed 84 days after the cremation: I still have two problems with this report. 1) The x-rays from the Maine Youth Center were not received back with your reports. We would like to at least duplicate them and file the x-rays. Also I did not receive any comparison x-rays from the deceased made with standard dental technique. Could you advise on the whereabouts of the above? Were they returned to the MYC? Were there any post mortem films done at your office? 2) I generally believed that the most definitive identification could be made upon the comparison of dental x-rays pre and post mortem and you did not mention in your report that such was done. If we can again locate the antemortem x-rays, would you like to make such a comparison as an addendum to your report in preparation for this case going to court?
Exhibit #8-3 is a letter dated May 28, 1981 from Dr. John C. Seidel, D.M.D. to Dr. Henry Ryan, M.D. This letter was written 89 days after the cremation: Thank you for the format package enclosed in your most recent letter. The type of standardization which it establishes will help very much to avoid the problem which I have had with the Micheal Cochran, 81-178 case. Concerning case 81-178, there were no films taken by me at the time of post mortem examination. The films taken at the MYC were bite wing films taken prior to the extraction of teeth 2, 3, 14, 19, 30, and restorative treatment. At the time I did not feel that they would be helpful. However, in retrospect and in light of our recent discussion for the legal implications, I would agree that films should be standard operating procedure. The next problem, as to the whereabouts of the bit wing films marked Micheal Cochran, to the best of my knowledge the x-rays were in a 11/2” by 3” manilla envelope enclosed with the MYC record and were sent with the other case charts on March 26, 1981 to your office. If it is possible at this time, I would suggest that I take post mortem bit wing films, if necessary, a comparison can be made. I apologize for the confusion on this case and will help in any way to get it resolved.

Exhibit #8-4 is a letter dated May 29, 1981 from Henry F. Ryan, M.D. to Anthony A. Seato. This letter was composed 90 days after the cremation: On February 25, 1981 you supplied us with dental x-rays on the above, and requested that they be returned. As the identification was made of the body found at Dedham, February 24, 1981, as that of Micheal Cochran on the basis of dental comparison and as the death is suspicious for criminal involvement, we would like to have a copy of the dental films made for later use in proving identity. Could you either have copies made for us or supply us again with the films so that copies may be made and the originals promptly returned?