Carradine Autopsy: No Suicide but Cause of Death Unclear

Dr. Michael Baden, who performed the autopsy on Mr. Carradine, told Fox News that “In any death, before arrivingat a final cause, one has to gather not only the autopsy results, butalso the findings at the scene of the death, the crime lab informationand the toxicology results. In this situation, some of thoseinvestigations have not been completed yet…. But theinformation we now have does rule out a suicide.”

The circumstances surrounding the actor’s death have been the subject of a real crime scene investigation, in contrast to the fictional cases portrayed in the popular CSI television franchise. Postmortem examinations of victims of potential crimes are carried out by medical doctors with specialty training in the field of Pathology with sub-specialty training in Forensic Pathology. Two of the major textbooks in this field (see below) devote only one or two pages to investigation of crime scenes similar to the one in which Mr. Carradine’s body was found, attesting to the rarity of these circumstances of death.

The CSI series is only the latest in a generation of popular fiction about the work of forensic pathologists. Earlier examples include Quincy M.E. a TV series (1976-1983) that starred Jack Klugman in the title role, and the Dr. Kay Scarpetta series of novels by author Patricia Cornwell. It was announced in April that Angelina Jolie will star as Kay Scarpetta in a film or films based on this series of novels.


Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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