Medicine: Crime Doctor

In the little town of New London, Mo., 48 years ago, a man and his wife were injured in a buggy accident by the side of a stream. The man survived, but the woman was found dead, face down in the water. When a local doctor, after a cursory examination, suggested that the woman had been dosed with morphine, her husband was indicted for murder.

Then, as now, violent and mysterious deaths in most parts of the U.S. were the concern of an elected coroner who often had no knowledge of medicine. With no official...

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