Murder Mystery? |
Anybody know why Republican
Congressman, Joe Scarborough mysteriously
This is not a tax
Everyone knows who Gary Condit is and we all know all about
the tragic death of Chandra Levy. But who was Lori Klausutis?
How did she die? ... Most Americans have no idea, thanks to a
mass media run by right-wingers for right-wingers. ... Of
course while the "liberal" media was going nuts over the Gary
Condit and Chandra Levy mess all through the summer of 2001,
they completely ignored the Klausutis affair.
Lori Klausutis was found dead in former Republican
Congressman Joe Scarborough's Fort Walton Beach office at
about 8:10 a.m. on July 20, 2001 by Juanita and Andreas
Bergmann, who claim they had an appointment that morning with
Rep. Scarborough to facilitate Mr. Bergmann's application for
a green card. Mr. Scarborough, however, was allegedly still in
Washington, D.C. and flew home only later that day.
The day after Mrs. Klausutis was found, the police said
there was no evidence of "foul play or trauma to her body."
The following day, having performed his autopsy and while
waiting for the results of blood tests, Dr. Michael Berkland,
the medical examiner, told the press that there was
"absolutely no evidence" that Lori was "a victim of 'foul
play.'" By July 26, although Berkland had still not received
the toxicology results, which he noted would likely play a key
role in determining whether Ms. Klausutis had died of natural
causes or accidentally, Berkland stated that he had "ruled out
homicide." While he said he didn't think that suicide was a
likely scenario either, he stated that he was also
investigating it as a possibility.
Finally, on August 6, Berkland released the autopsy. Oddly,
although the police had originally stated that there were no
signs of trauma, Berkland acknowledged that Klausutis had
sustained a "scratch and bruise" on her head which had been
noted in the original death investigation. His explanation for
having lied to the press was to "prevent undue speculation"
about the cause of death.
Berkland determined that Lori, an avid runner who ran
fivemiles a day, had a prolapsed mitral valve which caused a
sudden cardiac arrhythmia -- an irregular heartbeat -- which
in turn caused Lori to faint "in midstride," and hit her head
on the desk. How Berkland came up with this theory is unknown
since the medical report contains no description of the death
scene, no diagram of the location of the body, or its posture
or appearance as Berkland first observed it on the morning of
Ms. Klausutis had allegedly suffered from previous health
problems, but her family issued a statement contradicting
So how does a healthy, physically fit, 28-year-old woman
suddenly "faint" of a previously undetected heart problem?
The story bears remarkable and ironic similarities to the
Condit/Levy story. Both involve Congressmen, rumors of
infidelity, and the fate of a younger female subordinate. The
details are so similar as to remind one of two alternate
universes. The difference between the two stories? First, in
the Klausutis case as not in the Levy case, there is a real
body, very dead. Second, the Klausutis case involves a
The story had a brief flutter in the Northwest Florida
press, which ran a few very short stories on Lori's death.
With the exception of the Northwest Florida Daily News, they
were of the "Aw-what-a-shame/
nothing-to-see-here-move-along-now-folks" variety. But
nationally, this mysterious death earned a mere one paragraph
mention in The Washington Post's NATION IN BRIEF column:
"FORT WALTON BEACH, FL. - Lori Klausutis, a 28-year-old
office worker for Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-Fl), was found dead
in the congressman's district office. Police said preliminary
findings from the medical examiner's office showed no foul
play or any outward indication of suicide."
Unbelievably, that was it. The story was simply dropped. A
young female employee of one of Florida's Congressmen had died
unexpectedly in the Congressman's office. There were no
witnesses to her death and the cause of death was not
apparent. Klausutis' boss, Joe Scarborough had recently
resigned from Congress prematurely and unexpectedly, amid
rumors about his marital fidelity and soon after a divorce. He
had also abruptly resigned as publisher of the Independent
Florida Sun, claiming that resigning from Congress and as
publisher was necessary to spend more time with his sons.
Lori Klausutis had a seemingly happy life. A devoted
husband who listed on his online homepage "being married to
Lori" as one of the honors he enjoyed, a new home in Niceville
and a Catholic congregation where she was a cantor and in
whose choir she sang, were some of the elements of the Good
Life she enjoyed. Her husband, Dr. Timothy Klausutis, did
research and development for the munitions group at nearby
Eglin Air Force Base, where he presumably made a good
livelihood. Although Lori hailed from the Atlanta, Georgia
area where she had attended school, there were numerous family
members in the area. According to her obituary in the Fort
Walton Daily News, Lori had served as President and, later,
Treasurer, for the Emerald Coast Young Republicans and as an
aide to Congressman Scarborough, she was active during the
Florida recounts. A former neighbor, Barbara Cromer, said
"Every morning, I would see her run while I walked. We'd wave
to each other as we passed. I loved Lori so much. She was
wonderful. She was a kind, generous person, so sweet."
Scarborough's office released a statement several hours
after Lori was discovered dead, on July 20. 2001.
"My staff and family are greatly saddened by the loss of
Lori Klausutis. I know Lori will be missed by the thousands of
citizens who regularly contact my office to seek assistance
with a variety of problems. May God grant Lori's family the
grace, comfort and hope that will get them through this
There was a great deal of ambiguity over whether Lori had
suffered past medical problems. Scarborough's press secretary,
Miguel Serrano, made mention of health problems in Lori's
past, but could not be more specific. In response, Fort Walton
Beach Police Chief Steve Hogue is quoted as saying "That's
part of our investigation, checking into her medical history."
Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Berkland said "She had
a past medical history that was significant, but it remains to
be seen whether that played a role in her death". Soon after a
member of the immediate family rejected out of hand that Lori
had any significant medical problems. She was, in fact, quite
an athlete, having recently run an 8K with a very respectable
time and she belonged to the Northwest Florida Track Club.
The results of the mandated autopsy, however, were deemed
"inconclusive" by Dr. Berkland, who ordered more specific
toxicology tests. These results were expected by the middle of
the following week, around the first or second day of August.
Dr. Berkland commented at the time "This turns over several
puzzle pieces in the case of her death and reveals more of the
Michael Berkland, it turns out, has a very interesting
background himself. Recently relocated to Florida, it is a
matter of public record that Dr. Berkland's medical license in
the state of Missouri was revoked in 1998 as a result of
Berkland reporting false information regarding brain tissue
samples in a 1996 autopsy report. Berkland does not deny the
It's also a matter of public record that he was suspended
from his position as Medical Examiner in the State of Florida
in July, 1999. Repeated requests to Dr. Stephen Nelson,
Chairman of the Medical Examiners Commission, Florida
Department of Law Enforcement, have failed to verify that Dr.
Berkland's suspension was lifted and that his licensure and
disciplinary record are clear at the present time. Dr. Nelson
was appointed Chairman of the Commission by Governor Jeb Bush.
As for Lori Klausutis, rumors began to swirl as time passed
with no resolution to the case, rumors that included whispers
of suicide, some emanating from inside the Beltway. Family
members, angered at what they considered unfair and exploitive
coverage wrote the editor of the Northwest Florida Daily News,
Ralph Routon, saying "For those who knew Lori, the thought of
suicide, as your published reports suggested, is absolutely
unthinkable. Suicide was contrary to her faith and being. She
did not suffer from seizures, nor did she have a history of
medical problems." Meanwhile, the final report has been issued
that Lori died as a result of a blow to the head because an
undiagnosed heart condition caused her to collapse and fall,
hitting her head on the desk.
The initial reports from the Medical Examiner's office
denied any trauma to the body that would indicate cause of
death. But Berkland acknowledged on Monday, August 6th, that
Lori had sustained a "scratch and a bruise" on her head and
that his original denials were to prevent undue speculation
about the cause of death. "The last thing we wanted was 40
questions about a head injury", he said.
And so, what we have here is the death of a healthy young
woman who died of a blow to the head and a lie from the
Medical Director's office about this blow which was quite
obvious to the naked eye. They then had to go search for some
reason why she might have "fallen" and hit her head. And they
have found an "undiagnosed cardiac arrhythmia".
Smell like a cover up?
If Lori's death was just a simple accident, then why did
Rep. Scarborough and his spokesman Miguel Serrano feel the
need to go to two different local TV stations within three
hours of her body's being found and invent a nonexistent
history of chronic medical conditions for her -- in other
words, why did they feel the need to lie about Lori's health?
Would you trust the word of a Medical Examiner who lost his
license in two separate states, Missouri and Florida?
Would the police rule out foul play until they knew the
cause of the wound, before an autopsy was conducted and
toxicology tests performed, if Scarborough was an ordinary
A few months after Klausutis' death, responding to a
question by Chris Matthews about what would happen to an aide
left his employ and wrote about him, Scarborough blurted out
"I think they'd be in danger."
Don Imus surprised Scarborough with a question from left
field: "You said you had sex with that intern and then you had
to kill her." Scarborough, laughing, replied, "Yeah, well what
are you gonna do?"
I'll tell you what we're going to do. We are going to say
that the disgraced Medical Examiner, Dr. Berkland, routinely
imperiled criminal investigations and that means the death of
Lori Klausutis was not appropriately investigated.
To be blunt, a blow to the head is responsible for the
death of Lori Klausutis and that obviously means she was not
alone when she received it. Lori Klausutis suffered a massive
head injury that included a seven-and-one-quarter inch
fracture across the top of her skull, an "egshell" fracture
inside her skull above her right eye socket, a scalp contusion
on the back of her head and a subdural hematoma on the left
side of her brain that caused it to swell and herniate.