JC native’s office at center of teen’s autopsy

The St. Louis County medical examiner, whose office performed the first autopsy on Michael Brown, is a Jefferson City native and Jefferson City High School graduate.

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Mary Case

Dr. Mary Case is the chief medical examiner for St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties. She also is co-director of the division of forensic pathology and professor of pathology at St. Louis University.

“I had good memories of high school,” she said in a phone interview this week. “I feel like I got an excellent education there. I made lots of friends, and many of those friends are still friends today. My best friend is from high school and college.”

Her office was thrust into the national spotlight after a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.

Working on such a high-profile case hasn’t affected her office, she said. Despite an increase in calls from reporters, it hasn’t added much work.

“We didn’t know at the beginning that it was a high-profile case,” she said. “It was a very important case. It was a police shooting, as we refer to these cases.”

For her office, however, it was a fairly routine case — the type of case they might see twice a month, she said. She said her office does its job to provide answers for both sides, in such instances.

Case clarified that, contrary to media reports, she did not perform the autopsy on Brown. It was done by a member of her staff who was on-call at the time. But, she said: “I stand firmly behind the job that was done here.”

She said she takes no offense that her office isn’t the only one to conduct autopsies in such cases. “We have the initial jurisdiction, and once we have done our job, the body goes to the family, and if there is an interest in doing further autopsies, that is not looked upon by medical examiners as, ‘Well, you didn’t do a good job. There’s something suspicious about what you did.’”

Case is certified in anatomic and forensic pathology and neuropathology. Because of this rare combination, she has become a world leader in the field of child abusive head injuries and death.

She has written more than 10 chapters on children’s health injuries for forensic and pediatric textbooks.

She is a coveted speaker at forensic and pediatric conferences around the world and has delivered more than 300 presentations.

Although she was born in Jefferson City, her stepfather was in the military, and her family moved around, living on the East Coast much of her youth. They moved back to Jefferson City her junior year of high school, and she graduated in 1961.

In 2007, the Jefferson City Public Schools Alumni Association gave her the distinguished alumnus award. She still has cousins here and comes to town occasionally for professional workshops.

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