A Gwinnett County, Georgia, medical examiner’s investigator was disciplined after listing the cause of a man’s death wrong…twice.
According to WSBTV, the investigator claimed that Ray Neal, 61, had died of natural causes and left it at that. But when a funeral home director came to retrieve Neal’s body, something much more gruesome was discovered. Neal had in fact been stabbed multiple times.
Neal’s sister, Michelle Smalls, who discovered her brother’s body, knew that something was wrong all along.
Neal did suffer from health issues, including liver problems, high blood pressure, and Hepatitis C, but despite the medical examiner investigator’s explanation, Smalls still felt concerned, according to CBS46.
“The explanation that she gave… that his arteries burst and come through,” Smalls explained. “That’s a lot. Your body don’t create that much pressure to burst through your skin from the inside.”
“There’s no way. It was too much blood,” Smalls added. “[The medical examiner investigator] went in all of 10 minutes and said it was natural causes. The funeral home director came to pick him up. When he walked in, he said, “This is something totally different than what they said.”
Police who responded to the scene also had their suspicions due to the amount of blood found in Neal’s Lexington Drive duplex.
“I observed a large amount of blood on the bed and underneath Ray Neal. I also observed blood on the walls in the bathroom and on the shower curtain,” the first officer who responded to the scene wrote in their report.
Smalls told CBS46 that she last saw her brother on Friday. The next day, after calls to his home went unanswered she and her nephew went to check on him only to find him face down on the floor.
When the funeral home workers discovered the injuries on Neal’s neck, Smalls said that the medical examiner never came back to take another look at the scene.
“She never came back to re-assess the problem,” she said, adding that’s what made her most angry. “She never came back. She called on the telephone. She never came back.”
“I’m upset with the medical examiner who came out, that she didn’t do her job which caused them to have to do extra,” Smalls added.
On Monday, the medical examiner’s office officially ruled Neal’s death a homicide.
Despite the delay into the actual causes of Neal’s death, police said it hasn’t harmed the investigation too much.
“We were aware of the situation prior to getting that final classification from the medical examiner’s office,” Police Cpl. Michele Pihera told WSBTV.
“Whomever did this, he knew them because he wouldn’t let just anyone into his home,” Pihera added.
And overall, Smalls has been pleased with how the investigation has been conducted since the original oversight.
“They have been excellent. They’ve been out to my brother’s house three times with a crime unit,” she said of the Medical Examiner’s Office. “[The medical examiner] was very apologetic.”
And for now, Smalls is just hoping that whoever killed her brother will face justice somehow.
“We may never know who did this, but at the end of the day God is omnipotent — sees all, hears all, knows all and you can’t escape that justice,” she said.