How North Carolina investigates suspicious deaths depends largely on the county in which the person dies, a pattern that national experts say cheats families and distorts key statistics used to protect the public’s health.
Slipshod investigations mean killers could go free and grieving families could be denied the life insurance they deserve.
The Observer examines autopsy procedures in North Carolina's 100 counties in part three of our "Fatally Flawed" series. The investigation, entailing the most extensive analysis of state medical examiner data ever conducted, found wide variations from county to county in the way the state probes suspicious deaths.
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Get the full "Fatally Flawed" series at www.charlotteobserver.com/examiners/