Families from across the State continue to contact http://www.justiceforthedead.com/ with horror stories about their experiences with the State Medical Examiner's Office, and national media is getting more involved in the reality of small-town corruption with the arrival of Susan Murphy-Milano in Oklahoma.
The bottom line is that there is a trifecta in this State that is a breeding ground for corruption, cover-ups, and even less onerously, simple mistakes that do not get corrected because of a "never admit we're wrong" mentality. The trifecta is this: (1) corrupt small-town law enforcement; (2) an ineffectual M.E.'s Office tied into the good ole' boy loop, using "investigators" who hobnob with their buddies at crime scenes, have very little training with which to make any kind of independent assessment, and close cases via "remote sign-outs" without trained forensic pathologists (i.e. a doctor) ever seeing a body; and (3) OSBI backing up small town law enforcement rather than investigating them for wrong-doing (Garvin County is a prime example of this) because unsolved cases hurt the statistics they use to make themselves look good and get more funding. If Dante were alive today, he could write a sequel to The Inferno based on this astounding Oklahoma model.
One of the many reform measures the Chanda Turner Reform Bill seeks to implement is to have a completely independent Medical Examiner's Office. Who, the honest citizen might ask, could possibly be against this? The answer: those seeking to merge the OSBI and the ME's Office. This marriage has been a work in progress for years. The courtship has been happening right under our noses, with Dewade Langley leaving his post as head of OSBI to head the new multi-million dollar Forensics Facility at UCO - a position he lobbied to get. Meanwhile, Tom Jordan left the OSBI for the position he lobbied to get in the M.E.'s Office. Did Tom Jordan quit his post at the ME's Office under the pressure of the Justice for the Dead families raising hell at the idea of a non-physician running the show at the medical examiner's office? We hope that had something to do with it. It didn't solve the problem, though.
OSBI is still part of the ME's Board. You know, the people who fired Dr. Trant (the former Chief who made the tragic mistake of trying to report wrongdoing at the ME's Office and now has a whistleblower suit pending against them). The same Board who brought on former OSBI Agent Tom Jordan as Chief Operating Officer, when he's not even a doctor and could literaly do nothing to help the Justice for the Dead Families get relief. The same people who then offered the job of Interim Chief to Dr. Sibley, who was accused of sexual misconduct at the Tulsa Office, and who left his position in Arizona after going to trial there for similar scandalous accusations. And now, Dr. Keen, also from Arizona, who apparently sees nothing wrong with transporting bodies 100s of miles in the back of his pick-up truck, tied down with bungee cords, but takes offense when people call him "kooky." I guess he's a good fit for an ME's Office that stacks it's bodies on the ground like litter, but only if nothing changes. And Justice for the Dead is NOT content with that. We have almost 5,000 signatures demanding that something changes.
So let's start asking hard questions. Who's funding this OSBI/ME "marriage?" Who stands to benefit most from it? Because I can tell you, it's not the citizens of the State of Oklahoma. Big money is being thrown into this facility, and we would like to know who's throwing it, and which legislators' campaigns they are also donating to.
The OSBI gets millions of dollars in federal monies - i.e. grants. Statistics play a big part in this. How much better could the OSBI's statistics get with the ME's Office in their back pocket? Not just unofficially in their back pocket, like they already are, but all the way behind closed doors, in bed together, so there can be a real meeting of the minds between these two "powerhouses" as to how cases should be classified (homicide, suicide, accident) and what the evidence "shows." It will be next to impossible for family members to challenge their findings when they make no sense, when they know something has been missed, or critical witnesses not spoken with, or a suspect with connections to law enforcement has gotten away with murder. But if the OSBI says something happened one way, and their very own personal M.E.'s Office backs them, that sure makes them look competent and right. Right? Yeah. Right.
In fact, the OSBI was behind a proposed new law that would have made autopsy reports SECRET. Thankfully the Bill was defeated, but it managed to pass in the Senate, and this should alarm all Oklahoma citizens. In complete secrecy, the multitude of mistakes, errors and omissions constantly made by this M.E.'s Office (see www.justiceforthedead.com) would be hidden from public view, and the voices of all aggrieved family members would be silenced as effectively as the voices of their deceased loved ones. This is an unconscionable state of affairs in a supposedly free country, one in which our elected officials are supposed answer to us in matters relating to tax funded public agencies, not keep secrets from us.
When the M.E.'s Office can hide behind the skirt of the OSBI, and vice versa, we are all in trouble. The public must not be kept in the dark about what is happening on cases that affect our very lives and the memories of our loved ones. It is our tax money, in part, that runs these Agencies, and we deserve answers. An OSBI/ME merger will do nothing to restore public confidence in these two agencies, and it must be stopped.
Moreover, a requirement of being a nationally accredited medical examiner's office is independence from law enforcement. Merging the M.E.'s Office with the OSBI would mean the national accreditation the Agency already lost in July of 2009 would be forever lost. No one, and I repeat NO ONE, with the best interests of Oklahoma's citizens at heart, would want such a result.
Please visit http://www.justiceforthedead.com/ to support the Chanda Turner Reform Bill, and contact your State Senators and House Reps telling them you are against an OSBI/ME Merger and why.