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 July 20th..
Ms. Klausutis had allegedly suffered from previous health problems, but her family issued a statement contradicting this.
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 Republican.
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 difficult time."
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 picture".
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 charges.
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 Joe?
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 skalp 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. http://surftofind.com/scandal