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Dr. Cyril Wecht Gets One Right

Conspiracy theorists believe that David Ferrie either committed suicide or was murdered (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, page 225).


I wrote about the death of David Ferrie here,


In the weeks before he died, Ferrie was complaining that he had encephalitis. He knew he was a very sick man.


Dr. Cyril Wecht, in his book The JFK Assassination Dissected: An Analysis by Forensic Pathologist Cyril Wecht, agrees that David Ferrie died of natural causes. He claims that he phoned Garrison with his review of the autopsy:

"Garrison suspected the pressure got to Ferrie, who took his own life. The district attorney said he had gone into Ferrie’s apartment after the body had been removed and pocketed a bottle of Proloid, a prescription medication that he claimed the coroner’s technicians had failed to collect. The bottle had pills missing, and Garrison wondered if the medication was used by Ferrie to kill himself. I volunteered to review the autopsy report and, grateful, he said he’d mail it to me. In a subsequent phone call, I reported back that the autopsy, performed by Dr. Ronald Welsh, was expertly done, and I agreed with the conclusion that it was a natural death. I explained that an aneurysm can frequently rupture, spilling blood into the brain. Think of it as an inner tube with a weak spot, I said. Ferrie had complained of headaches for a while, a completely consistent scenario for his condition. Ferrie had other contributing causes of trouble: hypertensive cardiovascular disease and pulmonary edema (swelling) and congestion."

Wecht continues:

"Moreover, because there were two notes found, and the deceased was relatively young, the coroner asked for toxicology screening above and beyond what was typically done. The lab ran the full gamut for organic and inorganic substances, which include opioids, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, barbiturates, and marijuana, as well as alcohol. The results came back negative. Only a small amount of caffeine was detected, which comported with the cup of coffee that a reporter, the last person with Ferrie prior to his death, had said he ingested."

Wecht says that Garrison protested:

"Garrison said there were seven pills still in the bottle of Proloid he had taken, and that he had learned Ferrie didn’t even have a prescription for the medication. Garrison expected I would agree that the coroner’s techs had screwed up by not collecting it but, again, I had to set him straight. Proloid was a hormone to stimulate the thyroid gland to counteract a low metabolism, and it takes time to work once introduced into a person’s system. I had never heard of one case in which it was used as a suicide drug. In fact, as I explained, the only way it would make sense for Ferrie to use Proloid to kill himself would be if he stuffed the actual bottle into his throat to block his windpipe—and that didn’t happen. Also, most people using drugs for a suicidal overdose generally don’t leave a few pills in the bottle. They want to be sure to die, so they take all of the medication. These were the likely reasons the techs didn’t bother collecting that bottle, and I reminded Garrison that his own action of taking something from a death scene was improper. Had there been something to his theory of a “Proloid suicide,” he had interrupted the chain of custody. As for the lack of anyone’s name on the prescription medicine, I had no idea. Maybe the pills were left over from the experiments he conducted on the white mice that had been in his apartment. I said that partly facetiously. The last people to have seen Ferrie reported that his breath was labored and he moaned in pain with each step. He had also been unable to keep food in his stomach for long. It seemed to me that his system was shutting down. He might have lived, had he gone to a hospital."

But what about the supposed suicide notes?


Here is one of the notes:


Dear Al:

When you read this I will be quite dead and no answer will be possible. I wonder how you are going to justify things.


Tell me you treated me as you did because I was the one who always got you in trouble. The police arrest. The strip car charge. The deal at Kohn School. Flying Barragona in the Beech.


Well, I guess that helps ease your conscience, even if it is not the truth. All I can say is that I offered you love, and the best I could. All I got in return in the end was a kick in the teeth. Thus I die alone and unloved.


You would not even straighten out Carol about me, though this started when you were going steady.


I wonder what your last days and hours are going to be like. As you sowed, so shall you reap.


Wecht comments:

"Could that have been a suicide note? Absolutely. But it also could have been the words of a jilted boyfriend who was acknowledging his own poor health."

Here is the other note:


To leave this life is, for me, a sweet prospect. I find nothing in it that is desirable, and on the other hand everything that is loathsome.

Daily we are propagandized more and more about a rising crime rate. But how do we know it is true? We don't, for we Americans have little or no access to the truth. Today I went to the police headquarters to see these "public records" of this rising crime rate and nearly wound up in jail for my trouble. I was searched, interrogated, verbally abused, had my record checked, and finally threatened. Needless to say, I did not see the "public records."


Still more irking is to hear a superintendent of police, who rose through the ranks (thus proving that zero equals super zero) stating that the solution to the crime problem was tightened and more stringent laws. A somewhat messianic district attorney concurred. Together these men prove themselves utterly unfit for office, just as they proved that an electorate cannot be depended on to pick the right man. The problems of crime rest deep in society. The problems exist in the existence of divorce and the absence of regulations.


No parents would send him [sic] child to an amateur for dental work, nor a quack for an appendectomy. Yet what atrocious negligence is permitting other amateurs to raise children. Mere kids are allowed to marry because they have the "urge". How stupid can you get? Every expert tells in detail how children must be cared for physically, emotionally and intellectually. Yet society lets girls and boys, not yet capable of lover [sic] begat [sic] children who, love-starved, turn to crime for some sort of identification. However, I don't think we will often see a district attorney or a police chief with brains to realize this.


We pay so much attention to the law. I have not figured out the reason. I have watched judges like Cocke at work. The various police and district attorneys and the like get to bend the judge's ear long before the trial. These judges of today deny defendants due process of the law. They permit the court to try the case in chambers, to have district attorneys form their opinions and decisions long before the defense gets a chance. Further, these same judges (and I am afraid it pertains to nearly all of them) then comment, by word, glance, gesture or remark, on the evidence in front of a jury. If the defendant wins, these judges take it as a personal insult.


When I was a boy my father preached that in the "American way of life" you are innocent till proven guilty. No greater lie has been told. The man charged before the court has flat got to prove his innocence. Go witness a criminal trial and watch. The state is supposed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you read decisions of the various courts of appeal and the Supreme Court you discover that truth and falsehood, right and wrong have no place in court. All the state needs is "evidence to support a conviction". If this is justice, then justice be damned.


Wecht notes:

"This sounds more like a journal entry or letter to the editor than a missive to anyone."

Jim Garrison does not mention the Wecht phone call in his book, On the Trail of the Assassins. Instead, Garrison writes: (page 144)

"The sudden death of David Ferrie had brought us, right on the heels of the previous week's unwelcome front-page story [the news of Garrison's investigation], our second straight disaster. I could not rid myself of Ferrie's prophetic remark to Lou Ivon immediately following the news story: "I'm a dead man now." Nor could I rid myself of the nagging possibility that his death might as easily been causes by murder as by suicide. In either case we had lost our best chance for cracking the case."

In his book A Heritage of Stone, Garrison wrote that the remark "I'm a dead man," was from an interview with Allen Campbell. (page 110, footnote 59)


And the May 1969 interview with Campbell does contain that line:



Hard to know if Ferrie really said that. But we do know that he complained to many people about his health, and he did think he was dying. He was also extremely worried about what might happen to him because of the Garrison investigation: (Lambert, False Witness, pages 62 - 63)

"[Dave] Snyder and his wife both agree about Ferrie's state of mind. "Ferrie was scared to death," they say, "scared to death of Garrison, scared of being arrested." Ferrie was frightened because of the newspaper reports of his 1961 "crime against nature" charge. His predilection for teenage boys was a matter of public record. Many would regard him as a child molester, and they are not dealt with kindly in prison. Those last days, Ferrie was terrified by that, not (as Garrison and later Stone depicted) the fear of being murdered because of his knowledge of the assassination. He had no such knowledge."

Previous Blog Posts on Dr. Cyril Wecht


Dr. Cyril Wecht's Error on Jack Ruby


Dr. Cyril Wecht on the Bullet Wounds to Kennedy's Back/Throat


Dr. Cyril Wecht is Proud to be a Conspiracy Theorist


Dr. Cyril Wecht on Jim Garrison




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