The family of a deceased doctor in Revelstoke, B.C., is raising questions about cuts to the B.C. Coroners Service after the man’s autopsy was unexpectedly cancelled.
Dr. Roger Morrison was found dead in November in the middle of what police were calling a bloody crime scene in the basement of his home.
At the time, Morrison was in trouble with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. for drug abuse, and was facing a charge for assaulting his soon-to-be fourth ex-wife.
"On the Sunday night prior, that Sunday evening, his wife had called 911. He was, this time, going to be arrested and sent to jail and that would be it — he’d lose his license," his brother John Morrison told CBC News.
The local coroner was eventually called in to investigate.
"I got a call from the coroner and he said, ‘We’re going to be taking your brother down to Vernon for what’s called a complex autopsy.’ And I said, ‘What’s a complex autopsy?’ And he said, ‘Given the scene and what we saw, it was pretty horrific — a complex autopsy is basically just more in-depth."
But at the last minute, the autopsy was called off and the death ruled a suicide.
Funeral director Gary Sulz removed Morrison’s body for the coroner.
"At the last hour I was called, just prior to my leaving, saying, ‘Stand down. We’re not going to have an autopsy now,’" he told CBC News.
Morrison’s autopsy was cancelled by the regional coroner, who didn’t attend the scene.
"In this case what happened was a whole lot of new information came in which made the change reasonable," said B.C. Coroners Service spokesperson Barb McLintock.
"We're not going in to the details of justifying or not justifying open cases. We can't do that. It's still an open investigation. We're not going to go back and play, 'He said, she said, to whom' ... The conclusion was, and it was carefully thought out, that it was not essential, that what we had was clear enough."
'Peace of mind'
John Morrison's brother was told a suicide note was found typed on his brother’s computer but he wasn’t allowed to see it because he isn't next of kin. He doesn't believe the coroners service version of events.
"My brother had severed both his main arteries in each arm and his wrists were severed and he had a series of lateral cuts across his chest," he said.
Morrison describes his younger brother as a body builder with a quick temper.
"Given that he was on the steroids, that rage would get out of control pretty easily," John Morrison said. "Roger was, to me, was a walking ad — a billboard — for ‘roid rage."
Morrison says his brother had enemies and had recently received a letter from B.C. Corrections notifying him a criminal on bail had been ordered to stay away from him.
"It was advising my brother that if he even hears or gets a call or any communication whatsoever with this individual who has just been released that he was to call 911," John Morrison said.
Sulz told CBC News he agreed Morrison’s death was likely self-inflicted, but believes an autopsy would have dealt with unanswered questions, saying "nothing was standard" about the case.
"I would have liked to have seen the autopsy completed. It would have, if nothing more, given one member of the family peace of mind."