#enemyofthepeople, #murderingjoe

Special Report: A Death in the Congressman’s Office. Does Anybody in the Press Care About Lori Klausutis? #MurderingJoe

Special Report: A Death in the Congressman’s Office
Does Anybody in the Press Care About Lori Klausutis?
By Denis Wright and Chris George

August 8, 2001 (APJP)

Northwest Florida Daily News Links:
7/22/2001: Klausutis Death Not Suspicious
7/23/2001: Obituary for Lori Klausutis
7/27/2001: Aide’s Cause of Death Still Not Released
8/23/2001: Northwest Florida Daily News calls for release of Klausutis records
8/29/2001: Klausutis head injury more severe than previously reported
9/1/2001: Controversial autopsy report by “where’s the brain section” Berkland raises more questions than it answersOther Links:
Original AP story from July 21
AP via beachbrowser.com — information on Michael Berkland’s ME license suspension in 1999
The American Prospect — Scarborough press secretary Mick Serrano tells caller of contemplated lawsuit against American Politics Journal (make sure to use the “More” link — it gets even more bizarre)
Bergen Record (reprinted at Bartcop.com): Word on the Klausutis story is filtering out — skip down to the letter that begins ‘News determined by who defines it’
Florida DOH: Berkland’s physician profile, complete with two lies about the revocation of his Missouri medical license and chiropractic privileges
Healing Arts News — page 15: Berkland’s propensity for reaching conclusions based on autopsy tests he never did
Naples (Fla.) News — June 21 article on Klausutis death
Online Journal — “Protests are out and we will decide what you can investigate”
Moscow Times — Russia’s hottest pro-free-market, pro-capitalism paper picks up the story from APJ
Missouri v. Taylor — complaint mentions Michael Berkland’s “material false testimony”

Once upon a time, the phrase “investigative reporter” actually meant something. It usually involved hard work, possibly even mentation. Now, it seems, they just make stuff up. Especially on the Fox News Channel, where an uninitiated viewer could easily think she/he had tuned in Comedy Central. It’s “Chandra-Chandra-Chandra” with the occasional “Condit is just like Clinton” thrown in. Given our media’s 24/7 obsession with the Gary Condit “scandal”, you might assume that there is a real dearth of hard news to pursue.In reality, there is indeed a news story percolating out there. The story bears remarkable and ironic similarities to the Condit/Levy story. Both involve Congressmen, rumors of infidelity, and the fate of a younger female subordinate. The details are so similar as to remind one of two alternate universes. The difference between the two stories? First, in the Klausutis case as not in the Levy case, there is a real body, very dead. Second, the Klausutis case involves a Republican.The story had a brief flutter in the Northwest Florida press, which ran a few very short stories on Lori’s death. With the exception of the Northwest Florida Daily News, they were of the “Aw-what-a-shame/ nothing-to-see-here-move-along-now-folks” variety. But nationally, this mysterious death earned a mere one paragraph mention in The Washington Post‘s NATION IN BRIEF column:“FORT WALTON BEACH, FL. – Lori Klausutis, a 28-year-old office worker for Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-Fl), was found dead in the congressman’s district office. Police said preliminary findings from the medical examiner’s office showed no foul play or any outward indication of suicide.”Unbelievably, that was it. The story was simply dropped. A young female employee of one of Florida’s Congressmen had died unexpectedly in the Congressman’s office. There were no witnesses to her death and the cause of death was not apparent. Klausutis’ boss, Joe Scarborough had recently resigned from Congress prematurely and unexpectedly, amid rumors about his marital fidelity and soon after a divorce. He had also abruptly resigned as publisher of the Independent Florida Sun, claiming that resigning from Congress and as publisher was necessary to spend more time with his sons.Such circumstances make one pause. Sick to death of the clear bias of the corporate owned media, and suspicious of the odd nature of this death, we began to dig for answers. The more information we discovered, the more unlikely, and the more newsworthy the story became.Here are the facts. Lori Klausutis had a seemingly happy life. A devoted husband who listed on his online homepage “being married to Lori” as one of the honors he enjoyed, a new home in Niceville and a Catholic congregation where she was a cantor and in whose choir she sang, were some of the elements of the Good Life she enjoyed. Her husband, Dr. Timothy Klausutis, did research and development for the munitions group at nearby Eglin Air Force Base, where he presumably made a good livelihood. Although Lori hailed from the Atlanta, Georgia area where she had attended school, there were numerous family members in the area. According to her obituary in the Fort Walton Daily News, Lori had served as President and, later, Treasurer, for the Emerald Coast Young Republicans and as a aide to Congressman Scarborough, she was active during the Florida recounts. A former neighbor, Barbara Cromer, said “Every morning, I would see her run while I walked. We’d wave to each other as we passed. I loved Lori so much. She was wonderful. She was a kind, generous person, so sweet.Then, on Friday, July 20th, the body of Lori Klausutis, 28, was found slumped next to a desk on the floor of Florida Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough’s Fort Walton Beach office where Lori had served as a constituent services coordinator since May, 1999. Her body was found around 8:00 a.m. on Friday morning by a couple arriving for an appointment. She had been dead for some time. A second employee, who would have normally arrived for work at around the same time, was away on vacation. Police cordoned off the area for investigation, later announcing that there was no reason to suspect foul play, nor were there signs of suicide.Scarborough’s office released a statement several hours after the discovery:”My staff and family are greatly saddened by the loss of Lori Klausutis. I know Lori will be missed by the thousands of citizens who regularly contact my office to seek assistance with a variety of problems. May God grant Lori’s family the grace, comfort and hope that will get them through this difficult time.”The Congressman returned to Florida that same day, and his office was quick to point out that it was not unusual for him to fly home for the weekend.There was a great deal of ambiguity over whether Lori had suffered past medical problems. Scarborough’s press secretary, Miguel Serrano, made mention of health problems in Lori’s past, but could not be more specific. In response, Fort Walton Beach Police Chief Steve Hogue is quoted as saying “That’s part of our investigation, checking into her medical history.” Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Berkland said “She had a past medical history that was significant, but it remains to be seen whether that played a role in her death”. Soon after a member of the immediate family rejected out of hand that Lori had any significant medical problems. She was, in fact, quite an athlete, having recently run an 8K with a very respectable time and she belonged to the Northwest Florida Track Club.The results of the mandated autopsy, however, were deemed “inconclusive” by Dr. Berkland, who ordered more specific toxicology tests. These results were expected by the middle of the following week, around the first or second day of August. Dr. Berkland commented at the time “This turns over several puzzle pieces in the case of her death and reveals more of the picture”.Welcome to the Wheel of Fortune.Michael Berkland, it turns out, has a very interesting background himself. Recently relocated to Florida, it is a matter of public record that Dr. Berkland’s medical license in the state of Missouri was revoked in 1998 as a result of Berkland reporting false information regarding brain tissue samples in a 1996 autopsy report. Berkland does not deny the charges.It’s also a matter of public record that he was suspended from his position as Medical Examiner in the State of Florida in July, 1999.Quincy, he’s not.Repeated requests to Dr. Stephen Nelson, Chairman of the Medical Examiners Commission, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, have failed to verify that Dr. Berkland’s suspension was lifted and that his licensure and disciplinary record are clear at the present time. Dr. Nelson was appointed Chairman of the Commission by Governor Jeb Bush.As for Lori Klausutis, rumors began to swirl as time passed with no resolution to the case, rumors that included whispers of suicide, some emanating from inside the Beltway. Family members, angered at what they considered unfair and exploitive coverage wrote the editor of the Northwest Florida Daily News, Ralph Routon, saying “For those who knew Lori, the thought of suicide, as your published reports suggested, is absolutely unthinkable. Suicide was contrary to her faith and being. She did not suffer from seizures, nor did she have a history of medical problems.” Meanwhile, the final report has been issued that Lori died as a result of a blow to the head because an undiagnosed heart condition caused her to collapse and fall, hitting her head on the desk.The initial reports from the Medical Examiner’s office denied any trauma to the body that would indicate cause of death. But Berkland acknowledged on Monday, August 6th, that Lori had sustained a “scratch and a bruise” on her head and that his original denials were to prevent undue speculation about the cause of death. “The last thing we wanted was 40 questions about a head injury”, he said.And so, what we have here is the death of a healthy young woman who died of a blow to the head and a lie from the Medical Director’s office about this blow which was quite obvious to the naked eye. They then had to go search for some reason why she might have “fallen” and hit her head. And they have found an “undiagnosed cardiac arrhythmia”. But a number of questions remain to be answered, and we have requested opinions from Dr. Nelson, the Chairman of the Medical Examiners Commission.The questions are:– Were Lori’s medical records thoroughly examined for any evidence of the pre-existing heart condition? It would seem that someone must have examined her heart if she ran 8Ks.– Did Dr. Berkland personally examine the site of death in undisturbed condition in order to support his later conclusion that the physical evidence was compatible with his later conclusions?Presumably the heart valve condition alluded to is Mitral Valve Prolapse. This may be associated with arrhythmias, but rarely with VTach (ventricular tachycardia) or VFib (ventricular fibrillation), the only arrhythmias which would stop the flow of blood to the brain.Generally, with syncope of whatever cause the “guarding reflex”, wherein one raises a hand to protect the head, is preserved.There are several problems with the head injury. Generally, for a closed head injury to cause bleeding inside the skull, there is a much more severe injury on the outside of the skull. Do the autopsy notes, indeed, describe such a severe injury on the outside of the skull? In fact, the only closed head injury which usually may cause bleeding inside the skull involves a fracture of the temporal bone, with rupture of the underlying artery. The most important discrepancy that should be answered is how intracranial bleeding could continue if the cardiac arrhythmia had caused a cessation of blood flow to the brain!– Were the toxicology studies entirely negative? Was there evidence of any legal or illegal substance in the blood stream which could have caused her to lose consciousness?– Was she pregnant? If so, were fetal blood specimens obtained to determine paternity?These are the questions being asked by some in the medical community of Dr. Stephen Nelson and Dr. Michael Berkland, and they continue to go unanswered.Why is there a complete media blackout on this story? Why the complete preoccupation with the similar but largely speculative Condit/Levy story? What does this say about the state of our press? What does corporate ownership of the press do to what gets to be news? How much of what we think we know as fact is actually based on selective and distorted reporting? How does that “fair and balanced” cable network explain the complete hypocrisy and contempt for truth in their handling of these two similar tales? Will we ever know the truth of how Lori Klausutis died?Three Pivotal Questions
by the EditorsSeptember 1, 2001 (APJP) — Over at The American Prospect’s message board thread concerning this very article, Phoenix Woman has asked a trolling Scarborough “defender” three pivotal questions.  We’d love to know the answers ourselves:1) If Lori’s death was just a simple accident, then why did Rep. Scarborough and his spokesman Miguel Serrano feel the need to go to two different local TV stations within three hours of her body’s being found and invent a nonexistent history of chronic medical conditions for
her — in other words, why did they feel the need to lie about Lori’s health?2) Would you trust without question the word of a Medical Examiner who lost his ME license in two separate states (Missouri and Florida) because he LIED about his autopsy work (for instance, saying he had autopsied some brains when he hadn’t)?3) Why should whoever wrote Ms. Klausutis’s obituary feel it was appropriate to mention nearly everything about her life — EXCEPT where she’d been working since 1999? 

A recent check of the Young Republican’s web site found no mention of Lori or her contributions, nor any tribute to her memory nor comments about her passing. In fact, you will find no mention of her at all. If you go to The Pensacola News Journal’s online pages, one of the few papers that actually covered the story, and search the site for “Klausutis” you will come up empty, even though the same search will pull up numerous stories matching “Scarborough”. It seems as though someone wants to erase all traces of Lori Klausutis from the record and bury the story with her.It’s an increasingly puzzling case. We are reminded of the famous Kitty Genovese case, in New York, in 1964, where a young woman pleaded for her life over the period of 30 minutes, while neighbors ignored her cries. The assailant returned three times to stab her. With Lori Klausutis, it seems possible that a corrupt North Florida establishment is determined to keep the lid on the case, even if that means silencing the news. And our esteemed news media, from the supposed mainstream liberal press stalwarts to the near delusional on air shouters of the channel that just reports so that you can decide, willingly turn the other way and ignore Lori Klausutis. But they continue to chatter endlessly in speculation over Chandra Levy. In so doing, they ignore the cries of truth, they deny their viewers access to the truth and they utterly, once and for all, betray our faith and trust in the media.


This report was made possible by devoted citizens who are determined to bring Lori’s story to the light of day. Their contributions in research and insight are more appreciated than we can say. Thank you from both of us to each and every one of you.


Copyright © 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, American Politics Journal Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved. Read our privacy policy. Contact us.
ISSN No. 1523-1690

Part I: Congressional Aide Found Dead in Congressman’s Office
By Jennifer Van Bergen
t r u t h o u t | January 4, 2001
“Why has Lori Klausutis’ Death Been Swept Under the Rug?”
Article no longer at http://www.truthout.org/docs_01/01.05B.Klausutis.1.htm copy below:

This article is the first in a series on t r u t h o u t which will present the known facts and raise some questions about this strange and tragic case.

Part I: Congressional Aide Found Dead in Congressman’s Office
By Jennifer Van Bergen

t r u t h o u t | January 4, 2001 – Remember the news back in July that Lori Klausutis, an aide to U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough (R-FL), was found dead in the congressman’s District Office in Fort Walton Beach, Florida?

If you don’t, that’s because the news came and went in the blink of an eye.

Wait. Did you get that? A congressman’s aide. Dead. In the congressman’s office. No witnesses.

And the media were all but silent.

While the Condit/Levy story ran rampant in the national press for weeks on end, the Scarborough/Klausutis story got barely nine lines in the Associated Press and only one line in The Washington Post.

Does it make you wonder?

Wait until you hear the rest of the story. It has all the elements of a good murder mystery.

* The congressman (an ardent and vocal supporter of G.W., by the way) resigns only six months after re-election, just prior to his aide’s death. The reason: amid rumors of marital infidelity, the recently-divorced husband wants to spend more time with his sons.

* A medical examiner who had his license revoked in another state. Why? He lost it falsifying autopsies.

* The medical examiner’s supervisor had contributed thousands of dollars to the congressman’s election campaign.

* Contradictory reports about whether there is a visible head injury or not.

* A medical conclusion that contains several inconsistencies. First, that Mrs. Klausutis, who was a marathon runner, died of a cardiac arryhthmia. Second, that although she had suffered a fractured skull and a “contracoup” bruise on the opposite side of the brain, the injury could not possibly have been caused by a physical assault.

* Then there’s the question of whether the office was locked and the lights were on. One report says the door was locked and the lights were off; another report says the door was unlocked and the lights were on.

* And if all this weren’t enough, there’s the scientist husband who does high level weapon design work for the Air Force.

These are only the more obvious elements of the case. And this is not newsworthy enough for the press?

To be fair, the local press, the Northwest Florida Daily News, thought it was newsworthy for a few weeks. They published several short but good pieces and made a public records request for the police and medical reports. However, after the paper published the autopsy findings — which concluded that Lori Klausutis fainted, fell and hit her head on the desk — which effectively closed the police investigation, the paper had little more to go on. Furthermore, some local citizens accused the paper of “sensationalizing” the story. So, the story died.

In fact, however, the news stayed alive on various message boards on the internet and two intrepid journalists did do some excellent research which was published online, but amazingly, no major paper or television network even mentioned the story. Why?

That question is perhaps unaswerable. But it should be raised, along with all the many other questions that arise in this case. This series intends to review the facts and raise these questions.

“Absolutely no evidence of foul play”

Mrs. Klausutis was found dead in Rep. Joe Scarborough’s Fort Walton Beach office at about 8:10 a.m. on July 20 by Juanita and Andreas Bergmann, who claim they had an appointment that morning with Rep. Scarborough to facilitate Mr. Bergmann’s application for a green card. Mr. Scarborough, however, was still in Washington, D.C. and flew home only later that day.

The day after Mrs. Klausutis was found, the police said there was no evidence of “foul play or trauma to her body.” The following day, having performed his autopsy and while waiting for the results of blood tests, Dr. Michael Berkland, the medical examiner, told the press that there was “absolutely no evidence” that Lori was “a victim of ‘foul play.’” By July 26, although Berkland had still not received the toxicology results, which he noted would likely play a key role in determining whether Ms. Klausutis had died of natural causes or accidentally, Berkland stated that he had “ruled out homicide.” While he said he didn’t think that suicide was a likely scenario either, he stated that he was also investigating it as a possibility.

Finally, on August 6, Berkland released the autopsy. Oddly, although the police had originally stated that there were no signs of trauma, Berkland acknowledged that Klausutis had sustained a “scratch and bruise” on her head which had been noted in the original death investigation. His explanation for having lied to the press was to “prevent undue speculation” about the cause of death.

Berkland determined that Lori, an avid runner who ran fivemiles a day, had a prolapsed mitral valve which caused a sudden cardiac arrhythmia — an irregular heartbeat — which in turn caused Lori to faint “in midstride,” and hit her head on the desk. How Berkland came up with this theory is unknown since the medical report contains no description of the death scene, no diagram of the location of the body, or its posture or appearance as Berkland first observed it on the morning of July 20th..

Early on in the investigation, there were rumors that Ms. Klausutis had suffered from previous health problems, but her family issued a statement contradicting this.

Thus, in the very first chapter of this story, several questions arise. How could a healthy, physically fit, 28-year-old woman suddenly “faint” of a previously undetected heart problem? How could the police, with no witnesses, and knowing from the outset that Ms. Klausustis had sustained a bruise to the head, determine that there was no evidence of an attack? If Rep. Scarborough had an appointment with the Bergmann’s, why was he still in Washington, D.C.? Or was he? Why did the police and medical examiner lie to the public about the existence of visible signs of head trauma? They lied to the public so easily. Could they have lied about other things, as well? Given their later reluctance to pursue the case or release any information whatsoever about it, this lie may indicate a less-than-honest handling of the case.

Part II: Lori Klausutis, Aide to U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL)
By Jennifer Van Bergen
“Regular Joe”
Article no longer at http://www.truthout.org/docs_01/01.06B.Klausutis.2.htm copy below

PART II | t r u t h o u t Series on the Death of Lori Klausutis, Aide
to U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL)
By Jennifer Van Bergen
“Regular Joe”

t r u t h o u t | January 4, 2001 – Republican U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough is called a “Regular Joe” by his constituents. He is young, handsome, smart and personable. Young people — even those who disagree with him politically — like him because he takes time for them and “doesn’t talk down” to them. Young women in particular like him because “he’s so good-looking.” He’s well-spoken and was an articulate spokesman for the Bush presidential campaign, rallying behind Bush during the election controversy and appearing on numerous television talk-shows. His recent big re-election win was to his fourth term in Congress.

But, after seven long years in Washington, Scarborough was beginning to feel he was not getting anywhere, not contributing anything, perhaps not being valued for his contributions. In November 1999, he wrote a column in t he Northwest Florida Daily News, complaining that “Washington is filled with very average, very uninspired people who are just glad to be off the farm and in a uniform for the big game.” He didn’t feel he was making enoug h difference to be away from his children and speculated that his attitude might change if Bush were elected. But after Bush’s election, his vote didn’t really seem to be needed anymore with a Republican majority in the H ouse.

In May of this year, amid at-the-time unconfirmed rumors of his intention to resign, Representative Joe said he had “talked with President Bush and his top staff about a presidential appointment, possibly unpaid, to some sort of position that would allow him to work out of Pensacola.” He added that he would not leave Congress “unless the president asked me to.”

It doesn’t appear that Bush asked Joe to resign. Indeed, it appears that the Bush Administration didn’t ask Joe to do anything. Perhaps feeling neglected by the Administration he had helped put into office, Joe toyed with offers of doing a political talk show or a taking a broadcast job. Finally, Joe decided to take his talents elsewhere. By the end of May, Joe had announced his decision to resign, only six months after his re-election. H e left office in September and took a position with the Pensacola law firm headed by Fred Levin. Although there was a run-off election for Scarborough’s seat, the website for District 1 states that the congressional seat remains vacant. Although Joe had envisioned holding a presidential appointment at the same time as his law job, it seems that the law job would have to do. Joe had practiced for only four years before entering Congress an d the job with the Levin firm would allow him to be closer to home and his two sons from his former marriage.

Joe’s marriage ended in 1999. The divorce papers list Joe as the petitioner, meaning he was the one who filed for the divorce, which was nonetheless uncontested by his wife, Melanie. Although Joe’s county of residence is Escambia County, he filed in Walton County. He may have done this to avoid unwanted local publicity. According to the final judgment, the Marital Settlement Agreement was “executed voluntarily and after full disclosure.” The judgment states that “the bonds of marriage … are dissolved because the marriage is irretrievably broken.” The divorce was finalized on April 5, 1999, only four days before Joe’s thirty-sixth birthday.

Whatever the reasons for the divorce, according to a May 26, 2001 editorial in the Pensacola News Journal, Joe was “pursued by rumors over the cause of the divorce [and] a growing body of criticism that Scarborough’s pers onal life didn’t match the moralistic conservative stance he campaigned on.”

“Little Miss Mary Sunshine”

It is not known what sort of relationship Joe had with his aides, Lori Klausutis or her direct superior, Lois Hoyt, who was the Office Manager and Constituent Services Coordinator. Scarborough’s press secretary, Miguel Se rrano, said that Scarborough “knew all of his employees and would keep in touch” with them.

According to one of Lori’s friends, Mary Potthast, Lori was “a very diligent person who cared a lot about her job, her schooling, but most of all, about her family.” Her friends called her “Little Miss Mary Sunshine.” Her husband, Timothy J. Klausutis wrote on his homepage that one of the honors he enjoyed was ‘being married to Lori.”

Everyone seems to have loved her. A former neighbor, Barbara Cromer, said, “I loved Lori so much. She was wonderful. She was a kind, generous person, so sweet.” Paul Lux, the director of public relations for Emerald Coast Young Republicans, said she was “a joy to work with.” He added, “She was always very upbeat and positive about everything. Even when things got argumentative, she always stayed on the upside of the argument and would nev er resort to getting dirty or cruel.”

Lori seems to have been a paragon of good nature and kindness. Although there are no indications that Lori was anything other than a hard-working congressional aide to Joe Scarborough and a loyal wife to her husband, she seems to have possessed an abundance of attractive and enviable traits. She was young, pretty, energetic and fit. She ran several miles every day and participated in local marathons. She sang in the church choir and was s aid to have “the voice of an angel.” She was active in the Republican party in a largely Republican community. She had helped out during the presidential election controversey and had just resigned as president of the Eme rald Coast Young Republicans in order to devote more time to her education.

There were lots of reasons for someone to be jealous of Lori. On top of her personal qualities were the facts that she was an aide to a locally prominent, recently divorced congressman and was married to a man who did hig hly sensitive weapon design for the Air Force. She had been involved in the 2000 election controversy in Escambia County, one of the counties where voting fraud was alleged. Even without political reasons for jealousy, Lo ri obviously enjoyed access to personal information few people did. If the rumors of Joe’s dalliances with staffers (not to mention the rumor that he had gotten one of them pregnant) are true — of which I have found no c onfirmation — Lori would likely have been, if nothing more, at least the keeper of some secrets.

At the least, these circumstances seem to warrant further police investigation into the case.

Part III: Medical Evidence and Examiner Who Lost His License
By Jennifer Van Bergen
Article no longer at http://www.truthout.org/docs_01/01.07B.Klausutis.3.p.htm copy below

PART III | t r u t h o u t Series on the Death of Lori Klausutis, Aide to U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

This section draws heavily from the articles by Denis Wright and Chris George. See links at end of the article. I am particularly indebted to Chris and Dr. Bob George for their comments, knowledge, and assistance on this and other parts of this series.

Part III: The Medical Evidence and the Examiner Who Lost His License

By Jennifer Van Bergen

t r u t h o u t | January 6, 2001 – On July 20, Fort Walton Beach Police Chief Steve Hogue said that a preliminary investigation into Lori Klausutis’ death had not turned up any evidence of foul play, trauma to her body or any outward indications of suicide. However, the autopsy issued by Associate Medical Examiner Michael Berkland on August 6 shows clear evidence of severe trauma to the head: a 7 1/2 inch long fracture stretching from the right temple across the top of the head, a contusion in the occipital region (at the base of the skull), a subdural hematoma — a collection of blood on the surface of the brain under the skull — on the left side opposite the fracture, and eggshell fractures under the brain above the eye socket.

Certainly this evidence, in itself, should have been sufficient to launch an all-out police investigation. But, despite these findings, Berkland concluded the death was accidental. This apparently caused the police to close the case.

In the autopsy, Berkland disclosed that Lori had an “undiagnosed cardiac arrhythmia.” The papers described the condition as “floppy mitral valve disease, which is typically marked by abnormal heart rhythms.” According to the Northwest Florida Daily News, the cardiac arrhythmia had “halted Klausutis’ heart and stopped her breathing,” and the “blow to the head contributed to the death because blood pooled at the point where the fracture occurred.”

However, the autopsy states that the subdural hematoma (the blood pooling) was on the opposite side of the brain from the fracture.

Wright and George speculated that the heart valve condition was Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP), although Berkland does not come out and state this in the autopsy. Berkland told the press that “to his knowledge, Klausutis never visited a doctor for irregular heart patterns and had no long-term medical problems aside from lingering injuries from an auto accident years ago.” Indeed, Lori’s family members apparently wrote the Northwest Florida Daily News, saying that Lori did not have a history of medical problems.

Why, then, did the ABC affiliate in Pensacola (WEAR, channel 3) publish on its website, within three hours of Klausutis’ death (before her husband had even been notified) that “Scarborough’s office says Klausutis had a history of health problems”? Anna Dobbins of WEAR stated that it was Joe Scarborough himself who called, saying that Lori had a complicated medical history, specifically surrounding “stroke and epilepsy.” Dobbins added that about a week later, Scarborough’s press secretary Miguel Serrano asked them to drop the “complicated health history” story, saying Joe had spoken in error. Lois Hoyt, Lori’s supervisor, then apparently claimed that it was a “lie” that Scarborough had passed on details of Lori’s health.

WCTX radio, 1280AM, also reported that Scarborough “staff members told WCTX that Klausutis was suffering with ill health for some time,” and later told a researcher for Wright and George that they obtained this information from an earlier interview with Joe.

Later on, Serrano refused to confirm or deny whether he had even spoken to these newspersons.

Tiffany Bates, a Scarborough aide from Pensacola was the last person to speak to Lori alive. According to the press, Bates said that Lori told her she was not feeling well.

There were also rumors of epilepsy. It seems to have first been mentioned by Juanita Bergmann, the woman who found Lori’s body. According to the Northwest Florida Daily News, Juanita, a former nurse, speculated that Lori had had a seizure. Mary Potthast, a friend of Lori’s from the Emerald Coast Young Republicans, said she thought Lori might have mentioned having mild seizures during her youth, but called Lori “the picture of health.” Lori’s father-in-law, Norm Klausutis, according to Wright and George, “categorically denied that his daughter-in-law had ever had a seizure.”

Berkland concluded that she had suffered a severe cardiac arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm, which had stopped her heart, causing her to go unconscious and fall, hitting her head on the corner of the desk on her way down. He did not explain how he had ruled out an attack. He said, “We know for a fact she wasn’t whacked in the head because of the nature of the injury.” A few days later he told the press, “There is no doubt that the head injury is a result of a fall rather than a blow being delivered to the head by a moving object.”

Neither of these statements is supported by the medical literature. Quite the contrary. George and Wright quote from a 1997 study of closed head injuries, “In physical terms, the difference between the head moving or being stationary on impact is solely in the frame of reference. There is no physical difference between the forces involved in a stationary head being hit or a moving head striking a fixed object.”

Furthermore, neither the police report nor the autopsy contain a drawing of the room in which Lori was found, or of the position of her body relative to the furniture. According to Chris George, Juanita Bergmann, the woman who discovered Lori’s body, told George that she found the body near a chair, not near the desk.

While two police officers apparently witnessed Lori’s autopsy, this fact alone offers no support for Berkland’s conclusions. Indeed, there seems to be no more support for a determination of accidental death than of homicide.

According to Wright and George, Berkland’s conclusion that a contracoup injury — the internal bruise on the opposite side of the brain from the fracture — was “completely consistent with an unconscious person’s fall and totally inconsistent with a physical assault,” is contradicted by the medical literature.

Why did Berkland make such blatantly unsupported claims? Did he simply not know better? Or did he have other reasons?

Here was a woman found dead in the office of a popular United States congressman who seemed to be in the midst of falling from public grace — or was he? there are rumors that he is now a talking head for Fox Television — in a highly conservative Republican community which had strong ties to an Air Force base at which the victim’s husband was involved in highly sensitive weapons design!

This is the sort of stuff worthy of billion dollar movie contracts. Yet the press ignored it.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that Scarborough was known as a strong advocate for the military and served on the House Committee on Armed Services, and in particular on the Research and Development, and Military Construction Subcommittees.

The Medical Examiner

The final touch in this case which simply makes it cry out for further investigation is the fact that Associate Medical Examiner Michael Berkland had lost his license in Missouri in 1998 for “misrepresentation or unethical conduct and knowingly making a false statement in the autopsy reports.” As a result, Berkland was suspended from practice in Florida.

In 1999, Berkland’s supervisor, Dr. Gary Cumberland, the Acting District Medical Examiner, who, by the way, had donated heavily — and perhaps beyond federal limits — to Joe Scarborough’s election campaigns, said that he “still has full confidence in Berkland and no plans to replace him,” according to Beach Browser, a local paper. It seems that Berkland was reinstated with the issuance of a “letter of guidance” by the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine. George and Wright state that the Chairman of the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, Dr. Stephen Nelson, says that Berkland “serves at the pleasure of Dr. Gary Cumberland.” But, Berkland should not have been serving at anyone’s pleasure. According to George and Wright, Berkland was fired as contract medical examiner in Jackson County, Missouri in 1996 for falsely stating that he had sectioned several brain specimens. As of November 1997, nine criminal cases were at risk of being overturned as a result of Berkland’s falsified autopsy reports. In at least two cases, a reversal of judgment has been sought. In February of 1998, an injunction was issued against Berkland to prohibit him from performing further autopsies or working as a medical examiner. In March 1999, his Missouri license was revoked with no application for reinstatement for a period of six years. Berkland appealed and lost in November 1999. In the meantime, Berkland had applied to practice in Florida, apparently without advising the Florida authorities that he had lost his license in another state.

Why was this man allowed to perform an autopsy on Lori Klausutis? Why is his autopsy given even the barest credibility?

A Disappearing Act

Lori Klausutis’ death was tragic. But, if one were to follow the trail her friends and family left, it’s as though she simply never existed. Immediately after Lori’s death, one could find abundant information about her on the internet, according to Chris George. Now, one can find almost nothing. The same with respect to Lori’s husband, Timothy J. Klausutis. His personal website is gone. Only information about public seminars he co-chaired or papers he published can be found. A former weapons designer with classified clearance states that ten years ago the information contained in these publications would have been classified. Most of it relates to target recognition technology. In any case, it is an odd epitaph. Her husband designs ways in which a target can be acquired and recognized and she has become both a target and a person whose image we can no longer bring into focus.

Lori Klausutis deserves better than this. Why would her family accept the autopsy findings of a discredited medical examiner? Why did the police? Why has the Emerald Coast Young Republicans removed all information about Lori, who was their immediate past president, from their website? Why has the Pensacola News Journal removed her name from their search mechanism? Why did Lori’s obituary mention nearly everything about Lori’s life, except where she had worked since 1999? Why did the Ft. Walton Beach community complain to the Northwest Florida Daily News about their hardly excessive and very fair coverage of Lori’s death? Why did Joe Scarborough’s office (and perhaps Joe himself) start rumors about Lori’s health? (Since when do congressional offices keep medical records or release such information to the press?) Where was Lois Holt, Lori’s supervisor, the night of Lori’s death and the morning after? Finally, why did the medical examiner and police fail to search for evidence of an assailant? Skin cells, hair, fabric fibers? And why did the police close investigation on a case so obviously full of holes?

On July 19th, some time during the evening, Lori Klausutis died in Joe Scarborough’s office of a severe trauma to the head. Because the medical examiner’s conclusions are inconsistent with medical literature and because of the wounds Lori sustained — a 7 1/4 inch long fracture starting above her right temple, a hematoma opposite the fracture, and a contusion at the back of her head — there remains a serious question whether Lori could have been struck on the head, perhaps more than once, by someone wielding a blunt object, rather than sustaining her injuries while fainting. Should the investigation be reopened?

LINKS:

Denis Wright & Chris George “A Death in the Congressman’s Office,” American Politics Journal, Aug. 8, 2001.
www.americanpolitics.com/…sutis.html

Chris George & Denis Wright “Never Bound By the Truth,” Online Journal, Sept. 20, 2001.
www.onlinejournal.com/Spe…92101.html

Denis Wright & Chris George “Unwrapped” “Part 1: A Strange Way to Die” Online Journal, Nov. 10, 2001.
www.onlinejournal.com/Spe…11001.html

Drawings of injuries to Lori’s skull.
www.onlinejournal.com/Spe…#Graphic-1

Picture of Lori with classmates.
www.students.uwf.edu/vlh1/group.htm

Collection of links.
www.allhatnocattle.net/Pa…litics.htm

A Death in the Congressman’s Office
Does Anybody in the Press Care About Lori Klausutis?
By Denis Wright and Chris George
August 8, 2001 (APJP)
Read article at American Politics Journal

Three Pivotal Questions
by the Editors

September 1, 2001 (APJP) — Over at The American Prospect’s message board thread concerning this very article, Phoenix Woman has asked a trolling Scarborough “defender” three pivotal questions. We’d love to know the answers ourselves:

1) If Lori’s death was just a simple accident, then why did Rep. Scarborough and his spokesman Miguel Serrano feel the need to go to two different local TV stations within three hours of her body’s being found and invent a nonexistent history of chronic medical conditions for her — in other words, why did they feel the need to lie about Lori’s health?

2) Would you trust without question the word of a Medical Examiner who lost his ME license in two separate states (Missouri and Florida) because he LIED about his autopsy work (for instance, saying he had autopsied some brains when he hadn’t)?

3) Why should whoever wrote Ms. Klausutis’s obituary feel it was appropriate to mention nearly everything about her life — EXCEPT where she’d been working since 1999?

A recent check of the Young Republican’s web site found no mention of Lori or her contributions, nor any tribute to her memory nor comments about her passing. In fact, you will find no mention of her at all. If you go to The Pensacola News Journal’s online pages, one of the few papers that actually covered the story, and search the site for “Klausutis” you will come up empty, even though the same search will pull up numerous stories matching “Scarborough”. It seems as though someone wants to erase all traces of Lori Klausutis from the record and bury the story with her.

It’s an increasingly puzzling case. We are reminded of the famous Kitty Genovese case, in New York, in 1964, where a young woman pleaded for her life over the period of 30 minutes, while neighbors ignored her cries. The assailant returned three times to stab her. With Lori Klausutis, it seems possible that a corrupt North Florida establishment is determined to keep the lid on the case, even if that means silencing the news. And our esteemed news media, from the supposed mainstream liberal press stalwarts to the near delusional on air shouters of the channel that just reports so that you can decide, willingly turn the other way and ignore Lori Klausutis. But they continue to chatter endlessly in speculation over Chandra Levy. In so doing, they ignore the cries of truth, they deny their viewers access to the truth and they utterly, once and for all, betray our faith and trust in the media.

In October 2006, Joe Scarborough sent a cease and desist letter to have all references to himself and his dead aide, Lori Klausutis, removed from this [All Hat No Cattle] website. Click here for the PDF. Nothing was removed from this site:
http://www.allhatnocattle.net/congressman_joe_scarborough.htm

Did Microsoft/NBC Joe Scarborough
Murder Lori Klausutis?

Don Imus asked you why you aren’t in Congress. You said, that you had sex with the intern and then you had to kill her. Then you laughed and replied, “Yeah, well, what are you gonna do?” [broken link http://oldamericancentury.org/lori_klausutis.htm] copy below:

On Imus’ Show, Joe Scarborough Laughed about Dead Staffer
07-Jun-03
Joe Scarborough

From the Daily Dystopian blog: “Conservative MSNBC news host Joe Scarborough was a guest on MSNBC’s Imus show last Thursday, May 29. In complementing Scarborough on his sense of humor, Imus said, ‘Don’t be afraid to be funny, because you are funny. I asked you why you aren’t in Congress. You said that you had sex with the intern and then you had to kill her.’ To which Scarborough laughed, ‘Yeah, ha, ha ha, well, what are you gonna do?'” As the Political Amazon (politicalamazon.com) wrote us, Lori “Klausutis is the Scarborough intern who was found dead in Scarborough’s Fort Walton Beach office on July 21, 2001. At the same time that cable news shows on Fox and MSNBC were hounding Democratic Rep. Gary Condit over the disappearance of Chandra Levy… Scarborough appears to have been granted a free pass… Regardless of whether Scarborough actually murdered Lori Klaustis, his casual joking about her death is inexcusable.” Send complaints to viewerservices@msnbc.com

http://archive.democrats.com/preview.cfm?term=Joe%20Scarborough

1 Comment

  1. T. S.

    Investigate him, that way he can laugh in everybody’s face if they find nothing. Or is that too risky…you sycophants.

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