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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
Want a true crime Christmas?
Cyril Wecht is 89 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. The coroner to the stars is out with a new book in his long and distinguished true-crime career.
Wecht is a giant in the forensic pathology and true-crime publishing fields with a career spanning 60 years, and is the author of numerous best-selling books such as Cause of Death, in which he sets the record straight on numerous famous cases, Who Killed JonBenét Ramsey?, and Tales from the Morgue: Forensic Answers to Nine Famous Cases. You’ve definitely heard of some of the high-profile cases he has worked on: Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, and the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, are just a few of the more than 21,000 cases he has touched and to which he has lent his considerable expertise.
His newest book is about the case of Cyril Wecht himself. It’s a twist on true-crime, because Wecht the medical investigator was also the accused criminal facing down the might of the federal government. In The Life and Deaths of Cyril Wecht: Memoirs of America’s Most Controversial Forensic Pathologist, Wecht takes the reader all the way from the trial of Nazi monster Adolf Eichmann, which he briefly witnessed as a young man serving in the United States Air Force, to his own trial by fire at the hands of his political enemies.
It started in 2006, when Wecht says Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala colluded with the then-U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania Mary Beth Buchanan, Democrat and Republican respectively, to hammer him with 84 felony counts. Wecht’s sensational case made national headlines for three years, as the celebrity coroner was accused of everything from public corruption to trading cadavers for access to a lab at a university.
Wecht could have wilted or gone away quietly at the age of 72, and in the book he says he was offered to have the charges evaporate if he did go away, but that’s not his style. He fought back. After three years and untold sums spent by the government to go after him, after having his name and reputation sullied in sensationalistic media attacks, the case against Wecht totally fell apart. The government’s fishing expedition against him failed to land its catch.
Life and Deaths delivers Wecht’s case blow-by-blow in a fast-paced style, uniquely using blockquoted soundbites from some of the players and witnesses involved in his case to provide color commentary and alternative perspectives.
Most true-crime books follow the investigator as he collects and sifts evidence, turns as new revelations come to light and builds new theories as he discards others in the quest for the truth. The Life and Deaths of Cyril Wecht is a unique true-crime tale in which the investigator is the author and is also the accused. It’s a fascinating read, and a disturbing one too: Sometimes your political enemies may try their hand at destroying you even to the point of throwing you in jail. If that happens, you’ll want Cyril Wecht to be around to find the truth and keep you free.
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