Ex-Calgary M.E.s accused of being "body robbers" in lawsuit


Macabre allegations of collecting organs of children killed in Texas without the consent of the families prompted a criminal investigation and prosecution of two former Calgary lawyers.

Dr. Sam Andrews and Dr. Evan Matshes, who left the Calgary coroner's office in March 2011, were named last week in a $ 1 million lawsuit by a former Lubbock County coroner, who accused the duo and his California. pathology-based, NAAG Pathology Labs, to dismiss her after she raised concerns about inadequate collection of organs and tissues from children without informing their families.

According to the lawsuit filed last Friday in District Court 72, former Lubbock office worker Tita Senee Graves claims that Matshes removed children's organs and tissues during autopsies and sent them to the National Autopsy Assay Group (NAAG) in San Diego. She also accused Matshes of performing unlicensed procedures for practicing medicine in Texas, as well as telling employees that he needed to collect more children's tissue than in the past for "research."

The NAAG Pathology Labs denied any irregularities.

At a news conference last week, Graves told local media he was appalled by the new guidance of the old Calgary pathologists who allegedly told employees when they took over the office last year that they needed to collect samples of organs and tissues from children who He died naturally to create a control group for research on fatal cases of abuse.

"In these children, it did not matter what the cause of death was. They took the brains, the spinal cords, the neck vertebrae, sometimes parts of ribs, sometimes parts of legs, heart, lungs, eyeballs – all sent to San Diego, "she told reporters.

"When you are doing this in children, you do not have to have the tissues you are taking to determine the cause of death, you are not right in any sense of the word."

Lawyer Kevin Glasheen, who represents Graves, said that in addition to the financial award, the suit also asks the county to let her return to work.

"Ms. Graves is a hero for exposing these California corpse thieves who took over the Lubbock County Office of Legal Practitioners," he said in a press release.

"Of course, they immediately fired for doing it – and now we're going to make them pay."

Dr. Sam Andrews, photographed at his office in Calgary in 2009, when he was a medical examination assistant.

Postmedia files

Lt. Bryan Witt of the Texas Department of Public Security has confirmed to Postmedia that Texas Rangers, which investigates major crimes in the state, is investigating the Lubbock medical examination office, but declined to discuss details.

"I would not be able to discuss any of the facts surrounding the case because of an ongoing investigation, but I can confirm that the Texas Rangers are investigating allegations made against the Lubbock Medical Examiner's Office at the request of the Lubbock District Attorney's Office County. "Witt wrote in an email Monday.

"Once the Rangers complete the investigation, all investigative findings will be turned over to the Lubbock County District Attorney's Office."

Local media reported that the Texas Medical Board is also investigating the allegations.

A statement released by NAAG on Tuesday expressed confidence in Andrews, who was named chief coroner for the county last year, despite denying the allegations, none of which was proven.

"Both Dr. Andrews and NAAG Pathology Labs strive to perform all their services to the highest national and international standards," the statement said.

"We strongly deny that both the NAAG Pathology Labs and Dr. Andrews have acted in any way contrary to the best interest of the public. The NAAG Pathology Labs are behind Dr. Andrews' work and we will vigorously defend against any allegations that have been made. We are confident that we will be exonerated of all allegations of irregularities. "

When they arrived at their corporate offices in San Diego on Tuesday, the company, which also claims to have a Canadian office west of Calgary, made no one available to comment.

Matshes remains involved in a $ 30 million lawsuit, opened in 2014, against the Alberta government and former Alberta medical examiner Anny Sauvageau, accusing both of them of conspiring to ruin his career by divulging false information about him.

Shortly after his departure, Matshes' 13-month job in the Calgary coroner's department was questioned, leading to an investigation of Alberta Justice in 14 of his cases, which he considered his "irrational" conclusions in 13 of them. However, a Queen's Court Judge Bench later nullified the panel's findings after determining that the suit was unfair and investigators received incomplete information.

According to an online biography, Matshes, a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan, is "actively involved in the research, teaching and publication of Pediatric Forensic Pathology. He developed a new conceptual model and approach for infantile head injury inflicted on infants. "

The news of the chilling allegations has been particularly devastating for Alyssa Hammontree, a resident of Odessa, Texas, who learned this week that her son Zaydrian – whose death last August is accused of fatal child abuse that resulted in a capital murder charge for Marqalo . Divonte Flores – may have been one of two children whose cases of improper removal of organs were described in the process.

Zaydrian Guerra, a two-year-old from Odessa, TX, died in August 2018 and is one of the children who allegedly had organs and tissues removed without the consent of family members by the Lubbock County Medical Examiners Office. A couple of old Calgary pathologists are named in a $ 1 million lawsuit. Photo provided by the family

Hammontree told Postmedia on Tuesday that after the death of her two-year-old son, she signed an organ donor card allowing her heart, liver and kidneys to be donated. But she explicitly refused to allow any of her son's remains to be used for research purposes when asked to sign forms at the hospital.

"I just wanted him to rest in peace, but to know that over how he died is horrible," said Hammontree, who described Zaydrian as a clever and loving boy who loved the fights with water balloons and the Paw Patrol.

"I was vomiting all over the place when I found out."

She said she has hired a lawyer and is planning legal action while continuing to await the results of an autopsy seven months ago.

Given the ongoing legal battle with Matshes, the province's Justice Ministry and Attorney General's Office declined to comment on the latest allegations, nor whether to be aware of any similar charges that would have occurred during his time in Calgary.

During his 13 months in Calgary, Matshes conducted 426 death investigations, including 262 autopsies and 164 external examinations.

"As Dr. Matshes' work and employment practices fall within the scope of the current litigation between Dr. Matshes and the Alberta government (this case is in court), we can not comment further," the ministry said in a statement. .

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