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Old 04-12-2009, 08:17 PM   #106
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ms_bates
I watched this segment today and paid close attention to the part where they bring up a possible connection between Kurt's death and the death of another local boy named Eugene. I think someone brought this up earlier in the thread, but I think it is worth mentioning again: they do not say how Eugene died. He could have been shot for all we know. If he had died of unknown causes like Kurt did, I feel pretty certain that they would have mentioned that, as it would have supported the "possible connection" angle strongly.

The fact that they both happened to be missing a shoe doesn't really reach out and grab me as a shocking similarity. Depending on the manner in which Eugene died, he might have lost the shoe in a struggle. Kurt's might have come off while they were moving the body, and was left at the scene where he died or in the vehicle they put the body in. There are lots of logical possibilities.

I tried to find out more about Eugene's case via Google, but got nothing. I've seen a few variations in spelling of his last name in this thread. Are any of those confirmed or just educated guesses based on the way they pronounced his name in the segment?
I think that's an excellent point. unsolved.com has Eugene's last name as Kvett.
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Old 05-21-2009, 06:43 PM   #107
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Something I found. Apparently there's a ton of controversy surrounding the Newburgh Heights detective interviewed in the segment, as well as the entire investigation in general:



Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH)



October 27, 1991

WOUNDS STILL FRESH FROM SON'S DEATH ONE DECADE AGO


Author: BILL SAMMON PLAIN DEALER REPORTER

Edition: FINAL / WEST
Section: NATIONAL
Page: 1A












Article Text:

His body was cruciform, arms outstretched, head to one side, one knee slightly bent and one foot atop the other.

It was found by three boys cutting through a Newburgh Heights ravine 10 years ago tomorrow. But the passing of a decade has only served to deepen the mystery surrounding the disappearance of 17-year-old Kurt E. Sova and the discovery of his body five days later.

For Kurt's parents, Kenneth and Dorothy Sova of Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood, the last 10 years have seemed like 100. They said their initial suspicions that Newburgh Heights police were bungling the investigation were gradually confirmed as one by one, the police in power were brought down by charges ranging from falsifying credentials to drug trafficking.

The man who worried the Sovas the most turned out to be worst of the bunch. Robert Carras, the tiny village's only detective and the man who headed the Sova investigation, was later exposed! as a drug addict with a record of bludgeoning and stomping handcuffed prisoners. This year, he was sentenced to a prison term of six to 15 years.

Carras' investigation of the Sova case was a joke, according to those who later waded through its wreckage, including Cleveland police, the county sheriff's and prosecutor's offices, even the FBI. There were no photos of Kurt's body as it was found, no search of the house where Kurt was last seen alive and no written statements from those who were with Kurt the night he disappeared.

Even the cause of death remains a mystery. The Cuyahoga County coroner's office performed a full autopsy but could not determine what killed the perfectly healthy teen-ager.

Last year, Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecutor James A. Gutierrez asked Carras whether he had any involvement in Kurt's disappearance and death. After all, Carras once took a crime suspect to a back lot off Harvard Ave. - close to where Kurt was foun! d - and allegedly tried to provoke him into a fight.

! Carras denied any involvement in Kurt's death, Gutierrez said. Carras declined to be interviewed by The Plain Dealer for this story.

But the very thought that the man investigating their son's disappearance and death would later be questioned in the case has deeply troubled Ken and Dorothy Sova.

With the anniversary of Kurt's death approaching, the Sovas find themselves looking back to happier times when their fourth and closest son was still a vibrant part of their lives.

"Kurt was my baby," said Dorothy Sova, unable to stem her tears. "And I often blame myself for letting him remain my baby. While my older boys were adults at 12, he was still a baby at 17. He still went with me to places. He still shopped with me. He still went on vacation with us."

Yet Kurt's personality had a side he did not share with his parents. Like many teens, he was not averse to smoking marijuana or drinking booze on weekends, according to his friends.

Fr! iday, Oct. 23, 1981, was no exception. Kurt cut school and went to a liquor store, where he persuaded an adult to buy him a fifth of 190-proof Everclear, a potent liquor that since has been banned from Ohio liquor stores because it killed a Michigan man.

Kurt drank the afternoon away at his girlfriend's house, then joined a friend, Samuel C. Carroll, for a party that night at the home of Debbie Sams and her brother, Clayton. The Samses and a female roommate rented the upstairs of a double house on Harvard Ave. in Newburgh Heights.

Kurt's drinking continued at the party and he began stumbling around, knocking things over. Then, he got sick.

"The roommate asked me to please get him out of the house, so I helped him down the stairs and to the outside," Carroll said.

"We were out there about 20 or 30 minutes and it was cold out there - we were both in T-shirts," Carroll continued. "I then went to go and get the jackets upstairs. ... I got t! he jackets and went back down and he wasn't there. I was only ! upstairs about two or three minutes."

Carroll roamed nearby side streets and checked the parking lot of a J.L. Goodman Furniture Inc. warehouse, not far from where Kurt's body eventually was found. Finally, assuming Kurt had gone home, Carroll returned to the party.

"I can only guess that someone he knew picked him up because it happened that fast," Carroll said. "Someone had to pick him up in a car."

By then, Dorothy Sova already was out looking for her son, whom she had not seen since 7:30 a.m. She drove to several of Kurt's usual hangouts, but returned home alone for the first of several sleepless nights.

By dawn, the Sovas were really worried. For a thorough search, they enlisted a small army of friends and relatives, who fanned out over the ethnic, working-class neighborhood, asking anyone and everyone if they had seen Kurt. They searched alleys, ravines, even Dumpsters.

"We were in teams. We must have had 40 people looking for him! day and night," Dorothy Sova recalled.

That Sunday, Dorothy Sova filed a missing-person report with Cleveland police. Kurt's older brothers printed up fliers bearing Kurt's photo and information about his disappearance. Kurt's face went up in stores and on utility poles all over the neighborhood.

Dorothy Sova acknowledged that after finding out from Carroll about the party at the Samses' house, her family's repeated visits amounted to harassment. They recovered Kurt's jacket there but came up with nothing to aid the search.

After several days, Police Chief James F. Lukas ordered them to stay away from the house.

On Monday, an eerie occurrence at a Slavic Village record shop foreshadowed the discovery of Kurt's body. An apparently homeless man had been hanging around the shop for a couple of weeks and had bragged of having access to bodies flown into Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. He had bragged of removing shoes from the bo! dies.

On this day, the man showed up and pointed to ! a flier of Kurt taped to the window.

"He says: 'They're gonna find him and they're gonna find him in two days and they're not gonna know what happened to him,' said Judy Oros, who was manager of the store. "He was right."

The next morning, the Sovas heard that Kurt might have been sleeping on a cot in the Samses' basement. Kenneth Sova and his sons went to the house, kicked in a door and searched the basement. There was a cot, but no sign of Kurt.

Shortly before 5:30 p.m., three neighborhood boys cut behind the J.L. Goodman warehouse on Harvard Ave. and headed through some neighboring steel yards. As they passed through a ravine, they saw something that made them stop.

It was a human body lying face-up in a puddle, just a few feet from where Kenneth Sova had searched the night before. The boys ran to a workman, who summoned police.

"When we arrived there, his body was laid out like Christ on the cross," said Paul T. Grzesik, who was ! a part-time patrolman at the time. "One shoe was found nearby. We never found the other (right) shoe."

The scene at the county morgue is burned into Kenneth Sova's brain: "I said I wanted to see the body, so they pulled open the drapes," he recalled. "I felt sort of hurt because there was mud on his face and they didn't even wipe him off. He looked cold. He looked so cold. He was lying there as if to say, 'Dad, I'm so cold. Take me home.'

Kurt had a bruise on one cheek and numerous bruises on his shins. A few scratches and nicks were found on his body. But there were no bullet holes, knife wounds, needle punctures or internal injuries. The coroner's office was baffled.

Of the approximately 1,200 autopsies performed each year by the coroner's office, the cause of death eludes pathologists in one or two cases, said Cuyahoga County Coroner Elizabeth Balraj.

"You can stop the machinery without damaging the machinery," explained Dr. Lester! Adelson, who worked at the coroner's office at the time.
Ku rt had a blood-alcohol level of 0.11%, slightly higher than Ohio's legal definition of drunkenness; not nearly high enough to kill him. Tests for cocaine and LSD turned up negative. Since no one admitted witnessing foul play, the death was ruled "probable accidental."


News of Kurt's death traveled quickly through the tightly knit community. The predictions of the homeless man in the record store had come true, sending a chill down Oros' spine.

To make matters worse, when Oros arrived at the record store Thursday morning, a neighboring merchant gave her a bouquet of flowers left for her by the man.

"There was a note in it," Oros recalled. "It said: 'Roses are red, the sky is blue. They found him dead and they'll find you, too.'

By the time the man showed up at the store again, Oros had alerted Cleveland police, who sent two detectives.

"They took him outside and were sitting in their car with him," Oros recalled. "They checked! him out. They told me he was just some wacko from Detroit."

The man was released and Oros never saw him again. The man was never interviewed by Newburgh Heights police.

Newburgh Heights police never talked with Angeline Reddicks, either. She says she saw two males dragging what appeared to be an unconscious teen-age boy toward the ravine where Kurt's body later was found.

"I seen them taking a boy down the alley. It was just before Halloween," said Reddicks, who said she witnessed the scene one afternoon from a window in her house on Washington Park Blvd. "One foot was barefoot. I'm almost sure it was the right one. I figured: 'Couple teen-agers with a couple beers too many and they're probably trying to sober up.'

A few days later, Reddicks learned that Kurt's body had been found in the ravine. But she said she never told police what she saw because her husband told her, "You know, Mom, we gotta mind our business."

More th! an a year later, Reddicks by chance met Kenneth Sova on a stre! et and r elated what she had seen. Dorothy Sova said she passed Reddicks' information to the Newburgh Heights police, but Reddicks never heard from them. She said the only officers who interviewed her were sheriff's detectives in 1989.

"I'm not surprised they (Newburgh Heights police) didn't interview her," Dorothy Sova said. "They didn't interview half the people who came to me with stuff. Carras kept playing me off as the mother who would not accept her son's death."

The death she accepts. But she is tortured by unanswered questions: Where was Kurt during the five days between the party and the discovery of his body? How did he die? How did his body end up in the ravine?

She tirelessly tracks down rumors about Kurt that still swirl through the neighborhood's taverns and around its street corners. She seizes upon shreds of information on similar deaths in Greater Cleveland.

One death right in the neighborhood less than four months later bore a st! riking resemblance to Kurt's case. The body of 13-year-old Eugene C. Kvet, who lived one block north of the Sovas, was found in a Cleveland ravine off Harvard Ave. Eugene's right shoe also was missing.

The autopsy findings said Eugene died from falling into the ravine.

Undaunted by this and many other dead ends, Dorothy Sova has succeeded in getting four law enforcement agencies to reinvestigate Kurt's case. But each has come up empty. The trail is too cold.

"The initial investigation done by the Newburgh Heights police was a joke. A joke," said Gutierrez, who reopened the case for the prosecutor's office last year. "If I had known about some of this stuff earlier, I probably would have indicted some people on dereliction of duty. There was no police investigation whatsoever. It was unbelievable. The people who ran Newburgh Heights, from a law enforcement perspective, in the early '80s ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Police Chief L! ukas disagreed.

"I felt it was a pretty good investi! gation, based on the fact that we really didn't have a lot to go on. Nobody would even talk," Lukas said last week. "We didn't have a cause of death and that was the biggest problem. If they would have at least given us a cause of death, we would have had something to go on."

The Newburgh Heights police file on Kurt's case contains four Polaroid photos of Kurt's body after it had been loaded on a stretcher and was about to be placed in an ambulance. Asked why the file holds no photos of Kurt's body as it was found, a routine police practice, Lukas said: "I know there were photos taken. I'm almost positive there were photos."

Asked why no forensics specialists were called to the crime scene, Lukas said: "You've got to remember one thing: We were a small police department. We didn't have no forensics specialist."

Other law enforcement agencies say the tiny force should have asked Cleveland to send a specialist to the scene. Dorothy Sova said Newburgh Heig! hts rejected an offer of help from Cleveland police immediately after the body was found.

Asked why his officers did not obtain a search warrant for the Samses' house, where Kurt was last seen alive, Lukas said: "We had no reason to search it."

Eighteen months after the death, Dorothy Sova persuaded Cleveland Police Detective Al Figler to investigate the case. The first thing Figler wanted was the case file.

"When I went to talk to Carras, there must have been three or four pieces of paper thrown in a manila folder with four Polaroids," said Figler, who spent eight years working on the case. "It was a joke. Basic detective work would demand more documents than that."

The FBI also opened an investigation of the Sova case last year when the agency charged Carras with brutally beating five crime suspects. One of those suspects was Eric Kotonski, whom Carras arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. Kotonski said that when he refused to s! urrender his car keys, Carras bashed him in the head with a fl! ashlight .

Carras later picked up Kotonski at the hospital to drive him back to the Newburgh Heights police station. But he made an unexpected stop and tried to taunt the handcuffed prisoner into another fight, Kotonski said.

"He took me behind J.L. Goodman Furniture," said Kotonski, referring to the Harvard Ave. warehouse near where Kurt's body was found. "But I wouldn't get out of the car. I had already been beaten up once and I wasn't going to go through it again."

The five beatings for which Carras was convicted all occurred in 1988 and 1989. But prisoners weren't all he abused. There also was Percocet, a potent and addictive painkiller. Last year, Carras was convicted on 76 counts of aggravated drug trafficking and illegal processing of drug documents.

Carras was fired from the Newburgh Heights Police Department in January.

Five months before that, Lukas was permanently banned from law enforcement for helping to arrange phony polic! e credentials for a Newburgh Heights dispatcher.

That was not Lukas' first crime conviction. In 1984, he pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty for allowing gambling at a party where he was working while off duty.

But Lukas said his run-ins with the law should not reflect on his handling of the Sova case.

"That's not even fair. What happened was completely unrelated," Lukas said. "That's the only part I take offense to. That (Sova) case was handled on the up and up."

Not according to the Sheriff's Department, the only agency still actively investigating the case.

"It's kind of been botched since the beginning," said Detective Sgt. Don Mester. "We had a very difficult time getting records from Carras and the Newburgh Heights Police Department. But as long as I'm here, we'll consider the case open."

Carras has refused to be interviewed by the Sheriff's Department, Mester said. But Mester and his partner, Detective Len! Smith, are pursuing the probe and have conducted several othe! r interv iews in recent weeks.

And the Sovas keep waiting for answers.

"It has taken 10 years of our lives. It has literally crushed our family," Dorothy Sova said, clutching an armful of files she has accumulated on the case. "Sometimes I think I should just take all this stuff and throw it in the fire and get on with my life. But you can't go on with your life because you're constantly hearing different things about it."

As the tears returned, Dorothy Sova caressed the yellowed, dog-eared birth certificate imprinted with Kurt's infant footprints.

"I rememember all the good things, the fun things about him," Dorothy Sova said. "Oh, God, he was just a lovable boy."

Caption:
PHOTOS BY: PD/GUS CHAN

PHOTO 1: Dorothy Sova with her dog, Holli, and a photo of her son, Kurt, when he was 15. Mystery still shrouds Kurt's death 10 years ago.

PHOTO 2: ROBERT CARRAS: His investigation of Kurt E. Sova's death has been criticized by other officials, and Carras himself was questioned.





Copyright 1991, 2002 The Plain Dealer. All Rights Reserved. Used by NewsBank with Permission.
Record Number: 06300093
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Old 05-22-2009, 09:27 AM   #108
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Very interesting article and it definately lowers the hope of this case ever being solved. Without a thorough investigation, the only way this will ever be solved is if someone came forward with a confession. By the way, I couldn't view the two pictures.
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Old 05-22-2009, 11:00 AM   #109
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I agree, very interesting article & information about this case that we did not hear on the UM segment. I think there is a very good chance that the woman who saw 2 males dragging a young boy was in fact Kurt Sova. They should have never let that homless person go. I believe he knew what exactly happened to Kurt. Because he was homeless & acted strange, LE just didnt take him seriously. Sadly I don't see this case ever being solved. The only way it will be solved is if someone comes froward who has info.
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Old 05-22-2009, 02:20 PM   #110
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My heart just breaks for this family. I think in all reality, despite what they may say publicly, that his parents accept and believe that Kurt did indulge in alcohol and possibly drugs. That does not necessarily make a tenneager a bad kid. Nearly everyone I went to school with dabbled in it at some point.

But anyways...I doubt it will ever be solved. Maybe in many years if someone confesses, if there is anything to confess. I think that woman's testimony has a 50/50 chance of being accurate. However, since there was such shoddy policework, I am sort of apt to believe it is true. Only because I think if Kurt died alone he would have fallen in that ravine days before he was discovered.
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Old 05-22-2009, 04:57 PM   #111
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The police were barely interviewed in the UM segment. I think Kurt's parents were the only ones doing the work.

Apparently the Newburgh Heights police went to the same academy as the Baldwin Borough, PA police.
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Old 05-22-2009, 07:57 PM   #112
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I read through this whole thread today, and just about every other post said "bad police work here" and "bad police work there".

I figured it was a pretty accurate accusation, since you guys usually know your stuff, but holy cow! I got to this page, read the article, and good grief! who would think that the bad police work would actually be that extreme!?

Unbelievable.

That's one of the worst, if not actually THE worst, suspicious death investigation I've ever read about. They didn't know if it was a murder, and yet... no crime scene photos! Not one! And that's just plain weird.

I'm guessing the reason that the local cops turned down the offer of help from the bigger police department was that they knew if the bigtime cops got into their corrupt little local place, all their criminal crap (unrelated to Kurt's case) would be quickly discovered.
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Old 05-26-2009, 08:49 AM   #113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissFit29
Apparently the Newburgh Heights police went to the same academy as the Baldwin Borough, PA police.
Apparently!
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Old 05-30-2009, 05:01 AM   #114
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Just registered today, also went through the entire thread. I am 100% convinced that this "case" is simply about a young man who experimented with alcohol and likely drugs also, and died as a result. It happen more often than you think. Like any group of all-american kids, the kids at the party freaked out and disposed of the body. There really isn't a mystery here. His death was no doubt accidental - sure, the police bungled the whole thing BIG-Time, but it isn't as if the boy was found to have died as the result of foul play; at worst, the kids moved his deceased body to the ravine knowing if police found out about the drugs and such at he party, they would be toast. Typical teenager thinking.

My problem is that UM made what was basically a simple OD case into something 'mysterious'; the information at the end about the 13 year-old boy found back there shortly thereafter was totally irrelevant. So what if the kid also had a shoe missing; that's the standard for inclusion into a national broadcast? The problem with this story is that it was done entirely from the perspective of a grieving mom and pop which of couse would be inherently biased. The autopsy determined that at the least the boy wasn't murdered; so again, at worse, he OD'ed and someone disposed of him. Not an unsolved "mystery".

Also, from what case is the Baldwin Borough, PA police you guys are referencing?
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Old 05-30-2009, 10:36 AM   #115
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Well, sure the kid probably OD'd at a party but there were numerous unsolved crimes involved.

Did someone slip him something that caused the OD? His post mortem tox screen came back with just alcohol in his blood, and not enough to kill him.

And who kept him alive for a few days, denying him medical attention that he obviously needed? What would those charges be? Negligent homicide? Manslaughter?

Who moved the corpse and placed it in the ravine (after that area had already been searched)? Abuse of a corpse, and some other charges could be filed against the people who did that.

And the reason that the whole UM episode was told from only the point of the grieving parents is because they were the only ones investigating the case. The cops bungled it, covered stuff up, refused to investigate, and refused help from a larger precinct because they didn't want real cops to discover all of the illegal stuff they were engaging in at their little podunk police station. One of the "investigators" ended up in jail because he was so corrupt, he was engaging in very illegal activities involving drug deals, among other things.

That cop was known to take a cuffed person into the general area (behind the furniture store) where Kurt was found, and beat him up, while he was cuffed. What if on the night of the party, Kurt's friend left him outside on the fence, drunk, and maybe puking, when this cop drives by because of complaints of a loud party...

Well, there's drunken Kurt wandering around and the bad cop singles him out for harassment. "Get in the car kid, you're going to jail for underage drinking and use of illegal narcotics." The kid gets shoved into the cop car (just like this cop's last victim), and is later found dead near the cop's favorite spot to beat up handcuffed suspects.

My point is that this case may have been a drunken kid at a party who died of unknown causes, but it evolved into a case of massive police incompetence and even coverups. The parents deserve to know what happened to their child.

Kurt was alive when the dad went to that party house looking for him. The kid could have been taken to the hospital and his life would have been saved if so many people weren't more concerned with covering their own asses to the point that they let a kid die just so they wouldn't get caught possessing drugs.
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Old 05-30-2009, 05:14 PM   #116
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnsolvedMystFan
My problem is that UM made what was basically a simple OD case into something 'mysterious'; the information at the end about the 13 year-old boy found back there shortly thereafter was totally irrelevant. So what if the kid also had a shoe missing; that's the standard for inclusion into a national broadcast?

Also, from what case is the Baldwin Borough, PA police you guys are referencing?
I also thought the Eugene Kvett reference was a little out of left field. There wasn't really a strong enough connection between the two on the information that was provided in the segment.

Baldwin Borough, PA is from the Michael Rosenblum segment. I don't think Michael Rosenblum was murdered; however, the police bungled many things in that case as well, so we'll probably never know.
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Old 06-02-2009, 01:09 AM   #117
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Does this sound accurate enough?

Young kid is a good kid, but still a kid. He is seemingly well behaved as witnessed by his mother. He never lets on that he drinks or does drugs. He OD's at a party. There is panic. Lies happen. A mother asks about a party. The owner of the house denies there was ever a party being afraid of being reprimanded. Kurt's body is dumped somewhere. No one talks about it. Everyone misremembers it. The eyewitness account is inaccurate. No one has the heart to tell the kid's mother that he went all "Jimi Hendrix" on them and died.

I don't know I could be wrong, but it's happened before and no mother wants to think that her son did drugs. I do feel for Mrs. Sova though, seemed like such a nice lady.
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Old 06-03-2009, 12:27 PM   #118
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I'd really like to know more about the autopsy results, and I'd be very interested in having a forensic pathologist go over them with a fresh eye and perhaps new insights that have come to light over the past twenty-eight years. Maybe there is something there that they missed in 1981.
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Old 09-04-2009, 08:51 AM   #119
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You know, since they're saying that he did have acohol in his system, but not enough to kill him, then I must ask is there sucha thing as an allergy to alcohol? I've never heard of such a thing, but perhaps the few sips he took were enough to cause an anaphylactic shock of some sort?

From wiki:
Minute amounts of allergens may cause a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. Anaphylaxis may occur after ingestion.

To the last poster, if his toxicology results came back all negative with the exception of alcohol, a second opinion really makes no difference. The only unusual chemical found in his blood was alcohol; thus it stands to reason whatever initiated his body's descent into 'shutting down'; it no doubt arose from that. The coroner said he absolutely found no evidence of anything else and for certain homicide could be ruled out.

I'm still convinced he simply od'ed at the party, and being normal American teenagers more concerned of their own welfare someone eventually moved him to where he was found. So 'negligence' at worst, but the statue for that ran out long, long ago no doubt.

Still this brings me to the original question, is it possible that in extremely rare cases a person may have an unusually low tolerance to alcohol that might be fatal?
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:49 PM   #120
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Still this brings me to the original question, is it possible that in extremely rare cases a person may have an unusually low tolerance to alcohol that might be fatal?
Yes, but that doesn't cause a body to be moved and placed in a quarry.

Kurt Sova's body was placed there. Which means someone committed a crime. To what degree and whether it is murder, manslaughter or whatever, who knows. But a crime was committed!
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