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August 7, 2019 34 mins

Catherine dives into Janie's autopsy report and takes a look at the controversies surrounding the Arkansas State Crime Lab. 

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Speaker 1 (00:08):
School of Humans. We've all seen episodes of CSI where
murders get solved in an hour or less. But the
truth is that in America today, if you put a
gun to someone's head, you have about a fifty percent
chance of getting away with murder. In many areas, the

murder clearance rate is a lot worse. On September ninth,
nineteen eighty nine, sixteen year old Janie Ward collapsed during
a high school party at a cabin in the woods
near Marshall, Arkansas. Some friends put her in the back
of a pickup truck and drove her into town. They
ended up at the Bank parking lot, where Janie was

pronounced dead at eight forty five pm. It could have
been an accident. That's the official story. But the closer
I look at the case, the more questions I have.
Did someone get away with murder? I'm Catherine Townsend, and
this is helen gone. In many cities in America, experts

say that a lot of people are afraid to speak
out about what they witnessed, and fear of retaliation. Doesn't
just happen in big cities with gang problems. It happens
in small towns too. Small towns also struggle with death investigations.
A lot of police forces lack the experience and the
budget to deal with complex murder cases. As a result,

mistakes are made and valuable evidence can be lost forever.
In many counties, the person who examined you after death
is not a medical examiner, but the coroner, who often
has no medical training. In Arkansas, you just have to
be eighteen years old and not a felon to be coroner.

In Janney's case, Tom Martin was coroner of Cercy County.
He's the one who pronounced Janeye dead at the bank
parking lot. The medical examiner who performed the autopsy was
doctor Fawmy Mallick. He was the chief medical examiner for
the whole state of Arkansas and located in Little Rock.
Some coroners are working to get additional training and to

change the system from within to explain what happens when
someone dies under mysterious circumstances. Here's an Arkansas corner. My
name is Joseph. Joseph Blake is the coroner in Stone County.
He's twenty two, making him the youngest coroner ever elected
in Arkansas. He's very open about the fact that many

corners have no medical expertise and stresses the importance of
additional training. He says that his job starts with a
call from the sheriff. It all starts normally from the
Sarf's office. They call me. Let's say it's just a
regular home unattended death, which that means that nobody was
present of thee walked in the house and pounce on
man on the floor. So the Sheriff's office is gonna

call me, and then I'm gonna check in the radio
and be in that out. Normally, by the time I
get there, there's normally an officer that's already made it there,
or CID guy that's made it there, or both, and
they're they're they've kind of done there an investigation part.
I'm normally the last person call for anything nine times

out of ten. That's that's how it's gonna be the
cause they like to do their investigation first. When talking
to Joseph, I get a sense that the relationship between
the Coigner's office and police departments hasn't always been the best,
and while he's been the Stone County corner, repairing that
relationship has been one of his top priorities. This is

getting a lot better since I've took office. But there's
not been a good relationship between corners and police officers.
There's not really. If you was a corner, you thought
police officers were done. If you was a police officer,
you thro all the corner. So it was kind of
that hand. But now it's gotten a lot better with
me after developed a good relationship with their guys here

just don't county, and so they're normally there. They take pictures,
get a lot of information, and I get there. My
job is I'm kind of the missing pieces kind of guy.
I look and make sure that anything that they didn't miss,
I get pretty much the same information they get. Who
found them, down their normal bedtime schedule, just kind of

gathering information to my corner report. And then I pronounced
them is legally dead at that point, and then we
asked the family from there if if everything lo file
place affected. When I asked the family, you know which
funeral home they want to choose, and it goes from
the natural. That's very easy, and it don't sound like

a lot. Every death, every death I'm you moved to
the nursing home. Every death is like that. As a
homicide until proven otherwise. Every death is looked at as
a homicide until proven otherwise. But in Jennie's case, Ron
said that coroner Tom Martin didn't even bring up an

autopsy until Ron insisted. Tom instead just asked which funeral
home the family wanted to use. This is odd given
that the paramedics had already said it was a suspicious death.
Janie's funeral on September fifteenth. After Janie's death, Ron starts

recording and taking notes everywhere he goes. The funeral was
no exception. What have you have? A word of Mars
that's Saturday came the math at age sixteen. He wrote
down that five hundred people attended the funeral and said
that a lot of them looked into the open casket

and sought injuries on Janie's face and body. We read
in one of his notebooks more trauma showed up on
her body, things that were not noticed the night of
her death. What showed up on Jannie's wrists were what

appears to be restraining marks and bruises on the back
of her hands, and a splinter about a quarter of
an inch long under her right thumbnail. Ron had photos
taken of Jennie at the funeral to document what he saw.
When we talked to Janie's sister Crystal and her mom,
Mona Cristal also remembered additional injuries on Jennie. One thing

I'll never forget and I was eleven when I saw
Jannie there the first time in the coffin, and I
pointed this out to Dad. Jenny had claw marks in
her face. She had nicks different places that were claw marks.
You don't get that from falling off of port roofs
all the way down. She had bruises down it was

fingernails where Nag had clawd her scratched her face and
that's cat fine. Oh. Yes. She had a splinter under
her thumb half an inch long. Also. That was never
spoken of or addressed in the autopsy, but we saw
it in the cast at a funeral. I saw it,

Ronnie saw it. We all commented on it. Why was
that not in the autopsy. The state's chief medical Examiner,
doctor Fawmy Malick, performed Janey's autopsy at the State Crime
Lab in Little Rock on September eleventh, two days after
she died. The cause of death was listed as an
upper spinal cord and neck injury from landing on the

back of the head. The manner of death is listed
as undetermined. The autopsy mentions a single small bruise bluish red,
circular in shape with a cleared center on Jane's lower back,
but says nothing about the injuries Ron says that he
and others saw at the funeral. Doctor Malick wrote, the

neck is loose, but no apparent external injury is present.
To Jane's parents, this doesn't make sense. How could someone
have such a catastrophic injury falling off a portstep that
was less than ten inches high. Also, Jane's body was
clean when it arrived in Little Rock. There was no

mention of the dirt or debris or any ante sort
of why her body could have been wet. Today is
Friday's twenty seventh, nineteen eighty nine. This tape is Ron
Ward at the Arkansas State Crime Lab in Little Rock
with his friend Robert on Friday, November twenty seventh, nineteen
eighty nine. Ron had requested the autopsy report after several

months of waiting. He said all he received was the
first few pages determine. Ron heads to Little Rock to
get the report himself, get help us, get a coffee
of the roapopture. Well, how are you kneing an autopsy
report on? He isn't one who needs it. It's w daughter,

my daughter, okay, And what's your NA award? I'm sorry,
Ronald Ward Ron. And what's your daughter's fame? Her name
was Olivia Jane. It was listed I think probably as
your records as in Janie. When Ron shows up at
the office, he's told by the receptionist that doctor Malik

is in the middle of an autopsy elsewhere in the building.
She motions for him to sit and wait for doctor
Malick to get back so he can authorize the release
of the autopsy report. Ron sits in the tight waiting room.
Then the phone rings, move on and like, okay, I'll go.

I don't know if you ever talk pay or what?
Let me kick Yes, come. Doctor Malik invites Ron back
to his office to explain the autopsy results. I will
pretend you all to them, to do a lot of
things for you. Ambo I have for the body. If

you're left to see if I see it shortly, you don't,
don't you will see it? Sure? Yeah? Doctor Malick shows
Ron and photographs and an X ray of Jennie's spine.
Let's part the junction between the skull and the bone
then become loose, and the believing was here when she landed.

The cause of death is an upper spinal cord and
neck injury. High put extension studn HYGHT extension can snap
her neck like that. Doctor Mallick clarifies it's a hyper
extension injury. He says that the next snap back and
then snap forward with enough force to cause hemorrhaging in
the upper neck. He says it's severe whiplash and compares

the injury to one you'd get if you were rear
ended in a car. When she lived, what would happen?
Not lucky if she lived? A record with me? Why
does undertaining Let me explain this to you, because I
wanted the head for the first hand. Before that, Doctor
Malick explains why he left. The result is undetermined? Is

this uh game? As a game? Feeling her own nobody
touch it could be an extent or that. But if
somebody just push the ther it can't to change the story.

Uh As maybe homicide and homicide different. It's a bit
hard to make out, but here doctor Malick is explaining
that if someone intended to harm Jenney, that's homicide, but
there could also be negligence intend to harm her, maybe neighbors,
and you see what I mean. So he had the
difference between accident and homicide just a little thin line.

The difference between accident and homicide is a thin line.
And because I don't know, I can't U yes, so
I can't throw it either way. The bottom line is
he can't rule it either way. He also couldn't tell

Ron about the missing white pinstriped shirt or why Janie's
body was wet and covered with sand and dirt. This
mighty pedipus to show you in order to listen to Roma.
Here he's saying he doesn't notice any bruising that would
indicate that someone attacked Jennie. Nobody again seeing and submediate

the girl landers and had that and snap their neck.
There are some stretches in the back, as he noted,
but otherwise no, no, nobody a doctor. Melick seems very
polite in the tape. He's sympathetic to Ron when Ron
says he hasn't been getting information from the police. But

see they haven't told him anything, and he'll ask, I
mean tell him that he can't, and they say you
don't need to know that. Well, for me is a
sorry way, you know, and a way he is a
father he should he has. Uh, That's why we came
down here literally, Miss Silver. Let me tell your sense
against school, the law, the way hit just anything is

there's some cruel people do as they tell you. The
uthopic is up confidential, but I'm my father, I don't.
That's why I do it her if this happened to
why I would left to know you see what that
you I do know some people just stick to the
law and tell the law. But we should be human
as the child. You know. I know that at that

funeral home. I know when you saw her she looked
this way. When I saw her, they had different short arms.
Ron asked if you could take one of the Autosi photos.
May may I have this? Doctor Mallick hesitated, but said
yes you w Later Ron wrote in his notebook that

what he walked out of the crime lab wod that
day would become very significant toward helping piece together the
events of nine nine eighty nine in the death of
his daughter, sixteen year old Olivia Jane Ward. We'll be
right back. I'm pouring over autopsy reports trying to find

similar cases that could explain what happened to Janey. The
photo doctor Mallet gave to Ron shows a dissection of
Janey's spinal column. The column is made up of thirty
three vertebra protecting the spinal cord around the neck. There's
less space between the bone and the nerves, making it
much more vulnerable. An arrow points to the injury. Doctor

Malick examined Janie's stomach. He wrote, the stomach contains ten
hoursnces of digested food matter, in which tomato particles are encountered.
No oranges are noted. He mentioned oranges because that's the
fruit that the party host, Jay had soaked in rubbing
alcohol for the PGA punch. People at the party saw

Jane chewing on orange slices, but the contents of the
stomach were not tested, So if Malach only made a
visual inspection, it hits me that orange slices soaked in
red punch would look exactly like tomatoes. He noted that
it didn't appear that she had any other medical condition
that would have caused her to drop dead suddenly. Janey's

blood alcohol level was point zero five, or the equivalent
of around one shot or glass of beer. No trace
of drugs was found in her system, which means that
at least some of the rumors can be put to rest.
The evidence points to the fact that it wasn't an
overdose of drugs or drinking that killed Jane. According to

the rology report, Janney was not pregnant and no blood
or seamen were found. But there are still so many
things that are unexplained, like why didn't the crime lab
test the residue on Jane's body, which Ron insisted was
from the creek bed. Also, one of the paramedics on
the scene put a bag around Jannie's hands. This is

normally done so the material underneath the fingernails can be
tested later for DNA, but in Janney's case, this was
never done. This seems to be a huge oversight because
fingernails can give all kinds of clues. They can point
to the cause in a natural death case, and they
can also show if there is DNA from a fight.

A few weeks after visiting doctor Malick at the crime lab,
Ron received a copy of his daughter's X rays in
the mail, but Ron insisted that the x rays were
not the same ones he saw at the crime lab.
The X rays looked like they had been tampered with.
When we met with journalists Mike Masterson and Janie's mom, Mona,

this was obviously something that still baffles them. The side
X ray, the one where they blanked it out all
the way up her neck, which was not the one
they showed you when you went to the crime lab,
which she didn't even have the official stamp of the
crime lab lie in it, so obvious they were tampered with.
You know, the very area that was supposed to be

X ray was white it out. You know what when
you first saw it, because Ronnie dead, he made the statement,
that's why killed her? Right there it was separated. So
what was the purpose of an X ray if it's
all white it out? The lateral X ray shows the
side of Jannie's skull, but her entire neck is covered
by a hazy semicircle basically a white blob in the

bottom part of the X ray film. The crime lab
seal is also not on this view of the X ray.
When we asked Mona about doctor Malick, she made her
feelings clear and he wasn't very smart. You know he
wasn't smart at all. He was so confident he didn't
know what he was doing. It was obvious. It was

so obvious he did not know what he was doing.
I just wanted to note in case you didn't know this,
Fammy Malick, he not only watched my sister's case, but
many many while he was in the Bill Clinton administration
while he was the governor of the state of Arkansas.
Fammi Malick's controversial career in the many botched autopsies during

the years he ran the Arkansas State Crime Lab or
the stuff of nightmares. By the time doctor Malick performed
the autopsy on Janey, he'd been working in the crime
lab for about ten years. At that point, he had
performed thousands of autopsies. Ron collected articles about doctor Malick.

One headline from a yellowed article written in nineteen ninety
accused doctor Malick of lying on the stand, tampering with evidence,
and manufacturing convictions, and the words wouldn't be the first
family appalled by doctor Malix's autops the results. Families joined
together and formed a group called Victims of Malix's Infuriating Testimony.

The acronym for that group is vomit. The author of
that article from nineteen ninety was Rod Lorenzen. I asked
him what made Malix so problematic. He had no oversight
from state government. His decisions affected things like insurance payouts,
you know, on life insurance policies. He was in a

position to do favors for politicians if they needed something
done in their district, for example, if they needed a
decision on an autopsy to go a different way. My
impression was that that would get done, and so he
just had a lot of power and freedom in how

he decided cases. You know. That was the one thing.
This wasn't anybody watching the guy, I don't think. My
impression was that he was not very good at his job,
to story, and yet he was there for several years,
mainly just because there was no ower sight of that position.
In his article, Rod refers to Malik as a tool

of the state and points out that in Arkansas at
the time, the medical examiner held the sole power to
determine the cause of death. This differs from other states,
where county coroners also have some input in decisions and
provide evidence of foul play suspected, but in Arkansas, in
the late eighties, Malik ran the crime lab. No one

really knew what happened with the evidence Corners gathered and
sent to the crime lab and if it was ever
used in making decisions. Rod told me that while he
was writing about the crime lab, he reached out to
doctor Malick multiple times, but that doctor Malik always denied
requests to speak to media. Then, after Rod wrote his
pieces about Malik, Malik's attorney threatened to sue him. Rod said,

when he was writing about the crime lab, he got
creeped out. Malik's employees were kept on a tight leash
and afraid of speaking out against him. When I was
an interview on one of one of the guys that
worked for Malik, they just called themselves Meathollers. This guy
told me that in some cases Malik would come into

the lab and he would know something about, say a
victim that had come into the lab. And this guy
told me that Malick would already have his mind made
up about what the cause of death was gonna be.
Malix's controversial rulings include the June twenty eighth, nineteen eighty
five death of Raymond p. Albright, a fifty year old

man from Mountain home, who was found in his yard
dead of gunshot wounds. Malik ruled the death of suicide,
even though Albright had been shot five times in the chest.
One finding the infamous Boys on the Tracks case in
Saline County was particularly controversial. On October twenty third, nineteen

eighty seven, seventeen year old Kevin Ives and sixteen year
old Don Henry were run over by a train near
the town of Alexander. Doctor Malick ruled that the boys,
who were best friends, had been smoking pot and just
happened to fall asleep on the tracks, but a second
autopsy indicated that Henry had been stabbed in the back,

that Ives had been struck on the skull, and that
both boys probably had been placed on the tracks unconscious,
maybe already dead. The case would later be linked to
high level cocaine dealing through an airport in Mina, Arkansas,
involving state officials at the highest level. Two years after

Janey died in nineteen ninety one, Malik quit among a
flurry of allegations that he botched autopsies, and after losing
the support of then Governor Bill Clinton. He applied for
a position in Guam, but his employment was put on
hold after officials there found out about all the contents.
Malick eventually ended up in Clearwater, Florida. He died in

August twenty eighteen at the age of eighty five. When
you ask people in Arkansas about doctor Malick, he's considered
a pariah in a statewide embarrassment. But when we talked
with journalist Mike Masterson, he had another perspective on doctor Malick.

He said he was someone that he once considered a friend. Oh,
I was going to ask you about I know, you
told me a little bit about your relationship with Fommy
and how he was good at his job. But then
something happened. Yeah, But when he came to Arkansas, he
replaced a medical examiner named Stephen marx Well. Stephen had
been canned and I think ended up down in Texas.

FAMMI started, we became friends. I met him. Pommy started
telling me about things that he thought, as a journalist
I should know about involving the medical examiner's office. Well,
the first one was a girl who had died in
the Lake Hot Springs. It had been ruled that she drowned.

He suspected that wasn't true. So I wrote a column
I'm not called. Back then, I was writing stories. This
case Mike is describing would end up with the body
being exhumed and the cause of death change from drowning
to being shot through the head. And that was just
the first case that Mike wrote about. Anyway, cases like that,
there were several, and after they dug up six bodies,

Bill Clinton said, Okay, we're not going to dig up
the entire state of Arkansas. Now. I say this only
because Fomi Malek was at that point struck me very
much as someone interested in truth and a clean medical
examiner's office. So another reporter and I after that dug

into the medical examiner's office and found all kinds of
stuff wrong with it. Under Stephen Marx Malick seemed to
be although later in his career he had some pretty
dark periods until he finally left. During that period, he
seemed to be trying to help that family, and I
think he felt for him. He's a father himself. He

was a smart man. He was from Egypt, but he
could see the truth this case thinks that I haven't.
Whatever his motives were, Mike said that doctor Malick inherited
an already corrupt crime lab, so it's no wonder that
the Wards would be suspicious of any result. In their eyes,
Janey's autopsy could be another one that was botched or

intentionally mishandled to help a political ally. In the years
that he covered doctor Malick, Rod ended up writing a
few stories about Janey. I met mister Ward, I guess
probably twenty years ago at a restaurant, and he's kind
of showed me a fellow that he had kept on

his daughter, and he showed me the autopsy photos. And
it was just very difficult to believe that this girl
died by falling backwards off a porch ten or twelve
inches high. I mean, it seemed ridiculous. I remember, really,

you know, talking with mister Ward, it was he was
just taunted by the whole thing. I mean, he was
you could just see in his eyes that he was
a tortured individual, and he it Goshi. He made an
incredible effort to try to, you know, see if he
could he could get it the truth of how his

daughter died. Before Ron Ward visited the crime lab, he
knew about doctor Malick's reputation, and when he received the
X rays, the family grew even more suspicious. So we
have a medical examiner who some people think is complicit
in covering up cases for powerful people and Arkansas, and

we have a crime lab that already has a long
history of corruption. So here's where Ron made this leap.
Would doctor Mallick be complicit in a cover up of
a murder that impacted some of Marshall's elite, like the
parents of the kids at the party, especially the children
of the town's doctor, and a judge who delivered Sirce
County to Bill Clinton. To an outsider, this could all

sound a little paranoid, But as a great Pi once
said to me, paranoid people aren't always wrong, especially in Arkansas.
We'll be right back. Jane's case is officially closed on

February fourteenth, nineteen ninety, just five months after she died.
The prosecuting attorney, H. G. Foster sends a letter to
the Wards to say that the investigation found no evidence
of foul play in Jane's death. On November fifth, nineteen ninety,
the Ward family files affidavits calling for the arrest of

the prosecutor's assigned to the case, the coroner, the deputy sheriff,
and doctor Mallick the reason conspiracy, perverting and obstructing justice,
and helping cover up the facts in Olivia janey Ward's death.
They also submitted a petition with twelve hundred signatures calling
for a grand jury and an appointment of a special

prosecutor to look into the case. Their request is denied.
The judge writes to Ron, in my opinion, there is
nothing in the evidence reviewed by me that indicates that
anyone deliberately murdered her daughter. Two years later, Malick was
gone from the Arkansas State Crime Lab. Arkansas brought in

two independent medical examiners to review a dozen of Malick's
controversial autopsies, one of which was Jennie's and Janey's was
the only case reviewed where they ended up changing the
cause of death on the desert teet. Of all the
cases we looked at, I think I'm not sure what that.

Ron and Mona spoke with the two pathologists when they
were in Arkansas, Like he always did, Ron recorded the conversation,
and over the years this tape sound quality has seriously degreed. Well,
am I asking to turn what happened? We ask what
didn't happen? We know he did not offer biopaper in
course of the pont aug andrew a lot. We know this,

so we don't have to content with a dull let's
feel about Okay, we did tell us that what didn't
happen because we've I didn't know this, so so we
can go from there. So we want a grand jury.
We have to know. The Holling me is just all.
The main thing the family takes away from this meeting

is that, by looking at the autopsy report, the pathologists
can't say definitively what killed Jane. They say that some
of the circumstantial evidence is concerning, like the fact that
she was wet and the sand on her clothes. They
suggest that another investigation could yield more answers. The most
surprising thing these pathologists say is that they are not

convinced that Jane even died of a spinal injury. Presented
to me, all the evidence that I have, all the
autopsis time, the photographs that I've got do not indicate
the lead that a child dies and techondry, I can't
tell you that. So you asked me to tell you
what didn't happen. In the way it looks right now
that didn't happen okay. Suspicion is that they suggest a

sudden cardiac event could have been the cause, and they
say they can't rule out drowning. Drowning is often a
diagnosis of exclusion. It's not considered a cause of death
until everything else is ruled out. But Mona and Ron
are adamant about the X rays. They want to know
what the pathologists have to say about the lateral view
of the X ray where Janie's spine looks like it's

been whited out. First, the pathologists emphasize that they are
not radiologists, so they are cautious about their opinions on
the X ray. They also say that the X ray
images and the photos they received of Janey were photocopies
and very unclear. But they don't find the white blob
in the foreground of the side view of the X

ray suspicious white obstruction there. They suggest the blob could
just be your shoulder and explain that it's difficult to
situate a body on an X ray table. Also, they're
not suspicious that there isn't a crime lab seal on
the X ray. But then one of the pathologists says, this,

I have a certain suspicion, and a greated the lateral
film that you should be the color true daughter. He says,
I have a certain suspicion the lateral isn't your daughter.
In fact, I think it might be a male. So
did the crime lab even give the Wards the correct

X ray? The pathologists changed Janey's death certificate. Cause of
death is no longer listed as a neck and spinal injury. Instead,
just like the manner of death, it's undetermined. But the
Wards couldn't convince officials to do a second autopsy, at

least not yet. In two thousand and four, an independent
medical examiner based in San Diego agreed to review Janie's death.
He would come to a completely different conclusion. He said
that Janey was murdered. I'm Catherine Townsend and this is
Helen Gone. Helen Gone is a joint production between School

of Humans and iHeartRadio. It is written and recorded by me.
Katherine Townsend. Taylor Church and Gabby Watts are our producers
and story editors. Executive producers are Brandon Barr, Brian Lavin,
and L. C. Crowley for School of Humans and Connell
Byrne and Chuck Bryant for iHeart our Field. Producer is

Miranda Hawkins. Theme and original score are by Ben Sale
available wherever you get your music. Please visit us at
helen gonpodcast dot com or follow us on social media.

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