GBI opens investigation into decayed body at crime lab

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 12:28 PM
Last updated 11:12 PM
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Paul "T-Bone" Thomas, 49, died in his home on May 11. While his body was in the GBI Crime Lab, it decomposed more rapidly than it should have. His family wants answers from the GBI.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Paul "T-Bone" Thomas, 49, died in his home on May 11. While his body was in the GBI Crime Lab, it decomposed more rapidly than it should have. His family wants answers from the GBI.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is studying why an Augusta man’s body decomposed while it was in the custody of a state crime lab.

GBI spokesman John Bankhead said agents began an investigation Tuesday into handling of the body of Paul “T-Bone” Thomas, 49, who died May 11.

“We are trying to find out exactly what happened here,” said Bankhead, adding that policy does not allow him to discuss details of an open investigation.

Thomas’ family complained to The Augusta Chronicle last week after his body was handed over to a funeral home in such an advanced state of decay that it couldn’t be prepared for an open casket.

Richmond County Deputy Coroner Mark Bowen said Tuesday that two GBI field agents had interviewed him and the crime scene technicians who went to the home on Fort View Court where Thomas was pronounced dead.

Thomas was found unresponsive in bed about 1 p.m. after going to bed early the night before feeling ill, said his wife, Sheri Thomas. The family called 911, but her husband could not be revived, she said.

The body was taken to the Eastern Re­gional Crime Lab on Phinizy Road that afternoon for autopsy because there was no obvious cause of death and because Thomas had a history of prescription-drug abuse, Bowen said.

Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten said crime lab employees had said an autopsy would be performed the next day – a Saturday – but that didn’t happen.

He said the medical examiner waited until the following Monday to perform an external examination and draw blood for toxicology tests.

The body was released that morning to Edward James, the owner of James Funeral Home in Wrens, Ga., and the coroner in Jefferson County. James told family members the body was so decomposed there was nothing he could do to prepare it for viewing. A closed-casket funeral was held Friday at Woodland Baptist Church in Wrens.

Bankhead said during the three days the body was in state custody it was stored in a crime lab cooler. Tuten, however, said the body looked similar to one left in a hot room for two or three days. He said he had never seen a body deteriorate so rapidly when stored properly.

GBI special agent in charge Mike Ayers described the investigation as a “preliminary review” to determine all the facts before taking whatever action is warranted.

“We don’t know at this time where the breakdown occurred, if indeed there was a breakdown,” Ayers said.

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Frank I
1203
Points
Frank I 05/23/12 - 11:48 am
1
0
Terrible thoughts...

I'm not going to go into detail, but I have an answer to the the statement at the end of the article. The answer is right under their nose...

saltine
281
Points
saltine 05/23/12 - 11:49 am
2
0
I can't image what this

I can't image what this family and friends are feeling.

brendrowe
14
Points
brendrowe 05/23/12 - 11:59 am
1
0
wow!

ALL OF THIS IS A BUNCH OF HOGWASH!!! AND WHAT IS A BREAKDOWN? IT"S OBIOVIOUS WHAT HAPPEN, THEY DID NOT CARE FOR THE BODY PROPERLY, NO ONE WILL EVER COME FORWARD AND SAY WHAT REALLY HAPPEN, IT WILL BE COVERED UP!!!! THIS IS HORRIFIC, SO SAD FOR THE FAMILY, I CAN"T IMAGINE WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE, IF THIS WAS ONE OF MY FAMILY MEMBERS!! SHOUT OUT TO THE STATE OF GEORGIA, PLEASE EXPLAIN! THEY CAN"T!!!!!!! PRAYERS TO THE FAMILY,

dichotomy
36282
Points
dichotomy 05/23/12 - 12:35 pm
1
0
Time for a house cleaning at

Time for a house cleaning at the crime lab. You can't be making these kinds of mistakes with the bodies of loved ones. Hello, it's OBVIOUS that the body was not stored in the cooler over the weekend. The ME should have noted the body temp at the start of the examination. If the ME lied they have to go. If a worker failed to put the body in the cooler they have to go. If they conspired to cover up what happened then everyone has to go.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 05/23/12 - 01:05 pm
1
0
If the autopsy was performed

If the autopsy was performed on Monday and the body was also sent to the funeral home on Monday then the person who did the autopsy had to clearly see the decay of the body. They did not even warn the funeral home of what they were recieving. and I can't believe the statement “We don’t know at this time where the breakdown occurred if indeed there was a breakdown,” Ayers said. Of couse you know a breakdown occured, if it had not the body would not have been in that state. The only other explanation would be that the family was not honest about how long he was in that bed and I think that the corener could tell how long he was dead to start with. Something is fishy and of course no one wants to take the blame....

CABoatright
188
Points
CABoatright 05/24/12 - 06:20 am
1
0
Stillamazed: I believe I read
Unpublished

Stillamazed: I believe I read that an autopsy did not occur. The ME chose instead to do labs (toxicology) & a visual inspection of the body. No matter, still doesn't excuse what happened to this man & his family.

fd1962
26
Points
fd1962 05/24/12 - 09:55 am
1
0
Investigation? Hardly...
Unpublished

Investigation? Hardly... Simply buying time to fabricate an explanation for this inexcusable negligence.

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