A prosecutor said he may order exhumation of two more bodies in an investigation of the medical examiner's office which determined that a man whose death was blamed on a "bad cold" had been shot in the head four times.
Essex County Prosecutor George Schneider, who has ordered three bodies exhumed so far, said the investigation began about six months ago when he did a "test audit" of autopsy reports from the office of Dr. Thomas Santoro, 73.
"I pulled about 10 to 15 files that looked kind of hairy and from them, found five" cases to be reopened, Schneider said.
The body of Thomas Acevedo, 28, who was found dead in a Newark apartment Jan. 30, was exhumed earlier this week and an autopsy was performed by state Medical Examiner Dr. Robert Goode, he said.
The county medical examiner's office filed a report based on "clinical observation" that listed the cause of death as pneumonitis, or a "bad cold," Schneider said, but Goode's autopsy found Acevedo died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
"It is irrational and inexcusable neglect to confuse pneumonia with four slugs in the head," he said, adding that one glance at Acevedo's body led him to doubt the county report.
"There was foam and blood coming from the mouth and nose," he said.
"That looks like the victim of violence."