Fatally Flawed: Shoddy investigations by NC medical examiners leave families in pain

N.C. medical examiners often skip crucial steps when investigating suspicious deaths. The living face the consequences. Widows can be cheated out of insurance money. Families are left in limbo. Killers can go free.

An investigation from The Charlotte Observer, entailing the most comprehensive analysis of state death rulings ever conducted, found that examiners regularly close cases without following recommended practices.

Read the Observer five-part series, "Fatally Flawed," at www.charlotteobserver.com/examiners/. You'll also find interviews with family members of the cases examined, and a database of death investigations by the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner since 2001.

The Observer began investigating the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in 2012, after several families sued over the agency's performance.