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  1. #1
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    MI - Sally Mercer, 31, Okemos, 27 February 1968

    It will be interesting to hear what the evidence is in this case:

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories...TAM&SECTION=US

    MASON, Mich. (AP) -- A 72-year-old physician has been charged with killing his wife, whose death 38 years ago was initially blamed on polio.

    Dr. Charles William Mercer, who works at Ingham Regional Medical Center, was arrested in his home Monday and charged with open murder.
    ---------------------------------
    The sheriff would not say what the cause of death was or what information led to Mercer's arrest. He said there are no other suspects.

  2. #2
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    More information

    http://www.lsj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/art...0329/1001/news

    Sally Sue Mercer died Feb. 27, 1968, at the couple's home on Yuma Trail in Okemos, where Charles Mercer still lives. At the time, a pathologist ruled she had died from bulbar polio, a disease that attacks the part of the brain that controls breathing and often results in paralysis of respiratory muscles.
    -----------------------------
    Wriggelsworth said improvements in forensic science and "old-fashioned detective work" led to the doctor's arrest. Investigators from the county's Cold Case Task Force interviewed witnesses across the country.

    Mercer's preliminary hearing, which will determine whether there is enough evidence for a trial, had not been scheduled as of Monday.
    ------------------------------
    In August 2003, police exhumed her body for a second autopsy, Wriggelsworth said. Findings from that autopsy showed the death was not caused by polio.

    "We have a theory about how she died," Wriggelsworth said; he would not comment further.
    --------------------------------
    In August 1969, more than a year after his wife's death, Charles Mercer was charged with felonious assault after his then-girlfriend, Michelle Kelly, said he entered her Okemos apartment, wielding a 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun and told her to go with him to his home.

    The case was dismissed when Kelly and three house guests refused to testify at a preliminary hearing, according to a story in the Aug. 21, 1969, State Journal.

    Mercer later married Kelly. They both worked at Lansing General Hospital.

  3. #3
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    Interesting, a veritable frozen case.
    It's not what a man knows that makes him a fool, it's what he does know that ain't so. .... Josh Billings

  4. #4
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    I thought by 1969 that polio had been eradicated here in the U.S. Wonder why they even suspected polio unless the doctor injected the wife with it.

  5. #5
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by txsvicki
    I thought by 1969 that polio had been eradicated here in the U.S. Wonder why they even suspected polio unless the doctor injected the wife with it.
    Think it was 1955 when everyone got the polio sugar cube....
    At least that's how I received it...

    http://www.ecbt.org/polio.htm

  6. #6
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    Thanks for your comments!

    I'm not sure about the exact year the polio vaccine came out but will look into it more.

    Maybe the wife had already had polio before the vaccine, as a child, and was still afflicted with it at the time of her death? Since the Dr. is 72, he was born around 1934, so if his wife was about the same age, she could have gotten polio anytime from the 1930's to early 1950's.

    From the description of "controls breathing and often results in paralysis of respiratory muscles", it seems this may be another case where the good doctor helped his wife along with some type of drug injection. Reminds me of the Dr. Sybers case in Florida that took so long to prosecute because of lack of evidence of what drug he used on his wife.

    I'm also wondering about who all the people were that have been interviewed all over the country? Kudos to the cold case detectives for all the work they have done on this case, for a lot of years.

    I will follow up on this and update on what happens.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pharlap
    Think it was 1955 when everyone got the polio sugar cube....
    At least that's how I received it...

    http://www.ecbt.org/polio.htm
    txsvicki and Pharlap, you are both correct! I think the wife must have already had polio previously for them to even think this caused her death at the time.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank...es/dm52sa.html

    In 1953 Salk reported his findings in The Journal of the American Medical Association. A nationwide testing of the vaccine was launched in April 1954 with the mass inoculation of school children. The results were amazing -- 60-70 percent prevention -- and Salk was praised to the skies. But suddenly, some 200 cases of the disease were caused by the vaccine and 11 people died. All testing was halted. It seemed that people's hopes were dashed until investigators found that the disease-causing vaccine all came from one poorly made batch at one drug company. Higher production standards were adopted and vaccinations resumed, with over 4 million given by August 1955. The impact was dramatic: In 1955 there were 28,985 cases of polio; in 1956, 14,647; in 1957, 5,894. By 1959, 90 other countries used Salk's vaccine.
    ----------------------------
    In the U.S., cases of polio are now extremely rare, and ironically, are almost always caused by the Sabin vaccine itself -- being live, the virus can mutate to a stronger form. Elsewhere there are still about 250,000 cases per year, mostly in developing nations where vaccination has not become widespread. The World Health Organization has goals to eradicate polio completely in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

  8. #8
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    http://www.lsj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/art...7/1001/opinion

    MASON - The attorney for an Okemos doctor charged in the 1968 death of his wife said authorities have released inaccurate information about the case and charged the prosecutor's office with destroying or losing evidence.

    Speaking to the media for the first time since Dr. Charles William Mercer's arrest Monday morning, attorney Chris Bergstrom said Sally Sue Mercer died of a viral infection, a fact he says doctors knew in 1968. Two other Michigan women at the time also died under similar circumstances, Bergstrom said.

    The defense attorney also said autopsy results and other reports backing up his claim have been lost or destroyed.
    -------------------------------
    Both Bergstrom and prosecutors had asked that the hearing, where police presented facts needed to issue an arrest warrant, be closed. Prosecutors said publicity before the June 15 preliminary hearing "may bring facts to the public's attention prematurely" and that Mercer's presumption of innocence could be impaired.

    Explaining her decision to suppress the testimony, Aquilina said, "There are a number of witnesses who are fragile because of ailing health. ... Reading about this in the paper might be damaging to their health."

  9. #9
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    http://www.lsj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/art...WS01/606130342

    This article sounds like they'll have enough evidence to put him away for the rest of his life. Unfortunatly it won't be long enough! This poor woman had to have suffered a lot of abuse from him with all the injuries they uncovered.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Transcripts: Cold case victim was scared husband may kill her
    By Kevin Grasha
    Lansing State Journal


    MASON - In a letter she gave to a friend before her 1968 death, Sally Sue Mercer said she was frightened and thought her husband was going to kill her, according to court transcripts.

    Dr. Charles William Mercer was charged this month with open murder in his wife's death. A preliminary hearing, which will determine if there is enough evidence for a trial, is scheduled for June 26.

    The transcripts - originally suppressed - were released this morning by District Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. They reveal testimony of a June 5 "swear-to" hearing that led to Dr. Mercer's arrest.

    Also revealed today was that an autopsy in August 2003 - more than 35 years after her death - revealed Sally Mercer had massive lethal levels of a powerful pain reliever in her body that led to her death.

    Photos of her autopsy also showed she had suffered numerous injuries to her head, arms and hands, according to court transcripts released this morning.

    Dr. Mercer, now free on a $1 million bond, appeared in court today wearing a dark gray suit, his white hair neatly combed; a stark contrast to how he looked at a hearing last week, wearing a green, jail-issue jumpsuit, his hair disheveled.

    More at link.
    Old Broad
    this is just my opinion, it may be wrong, user beware!

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the update, Old Broad! With the injuries mentioned in your link, I'm wondering if Mrs. Mercer tried to fight him off, possibly when he gave her an injection? I had gotten the impression before that she was ill, but maybe she never had polio at all?

    The prosecutor is not happy about these details being released and this link has a little more information on the crime:


    http://www.lsj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/art...WS01/606150348

    The transcripts revealed Sally Mercer suspected her husband was having an affair and that she was afraid he might kill her. The sealed testimony, which led to Charles Mercer's arrest, also indicated a now-deceased pathologist may have covered up the cause of death.

    Dunnings said the release of such information before the case has gone to court jeopardizes a defendant's right to a fair trial - which he said is a prosecutor's obligation to ensure.

    "I don't think it's fair to a defendant to have information ... be released to the public without the opportunity for cross-examination and without giving the defense the opportunity to present information on its own behalf," he said.

    Dunnings also said he is "giving serious consideration" to appealing District Judge Rosemarie Aquilina's decision to release the transcripts.


  11. #11
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    They are really eking out this case slowly. This is probably some of the information the prosecutor was trying to keep from getting out. It seems to me this indicates a cover-up of this crime by the 2 doctors. How horrible for his two daughters:

    http://lsj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article...73248171691369

    In the months before she was found dead at age 31, Sally Mercer gave a letter to a friend in Grand Rapids. If Mercer was found dead, the friend was instructed to send police the letter, in which Sally Mercer said she thought her husband was going to kill her. The friend also was to send police photographs that showed Charles Mercer's car in a motel parking lot next to the car of a woman who later was revealed to be his mistress.
    --------------------------------
    Daughter found mother

    On Feb. 27, 1968, Sally Mercer's 8-year-old daughter came home from school and found her mother's body lying on the floor of their Okemos home, her 2 1/2-year-old sister sitting nearby, according to court transcripts. Emergency medical workers at the scene said she had been dead for "some time," her fists clenched as if she had been in a struggle.

    According to Ferguson's testimony, an Ingham County sheriff's detective who attended the 1968 autopsy noticed injuries, including multiple bruises to her scalp as well as bruises on her hands and arms. The detective, who happened to be trained as a mortician's apprentice, also noticed Mercer's body already had been embalmed.

    When questioned by the detective, Dr. Charles Black, the pathologist who performed the autopsy, said he embalmed the body because he did not realize there was trauma, according to the transcripts.

    Black, who died in 1981, then ruled Sally Mercer likely died of bulbar polio, ignoring the trauma, Ferguson testified.
    ---------------------------------
    Also in August 2003, Michelle Kelly Mercer - whom Charles Mercer married shortly after his wife's death - told police she had an affair with the doctor and had told his wife about it.

  12. #12
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    These small town coroners will frequently ignore other signs if it is inconvenient to their overall perspective and if no one questions.

    I know. This happened to my sister when she became disposable. I questioned later as I didn't understand the scope and/or I couldn't believe it.They listened but nothing can be proven at this late date. This is one of the reasons that I stay so dogged. I don't want anyone else to not understand or not have an opportunity.

    I was ill informed and didn't question my own hinkey when it came to my birth family. I would never do that again but my sister is dead. I will carry that with me to the last days of my life. Listen to all the clues. I give more warnings than I care to acknowledge but it is what it is.

    I have spent the better part of 4 years learning and reading.I have spoken to so many people with far greater knowledge.Please, don't question when you get a register it means something and sometimes you are the only one that can get justice.Just keep trying..people all over depend on the rest of us.

  13. #13
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    Thank you for your post, concernedperson. I'm sorry about your sister and that you had to go through that. When these doctors deceive and cover for each other it is very hard for a lay person to know or to fight.

    Even in this case, with all the evidence at the time she died: her injuries that were seen by the detective and emergency technicians, her NOT apparently having polio previously, the affair, the letter of her fears - nothing further was done.

    I'm just glad the cold case detectives decided to look at this case again. It has to be traumatic for the daughters to find out about all these things so long after the fact. I wonder if the older girl ever suspected anything as she grew up, especially since he married again so soon after?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reader
    Thank you for your post, concernedperson. I'm sorry about your sister and that you had to go through that. When these doctors deceive and cover for each other it is very hard for a lay person to know or to fight.

    Even in this case, with all the evidence at the time she died: her injuries that were seen by the detective and emergency technicians, her NOT apparently having polio previously, the affair, the letter of her fears - nothing further was done.

    I'm just glad the cold case detectives decided to look at this case again. It has to be traumatic for the daughters to find out about all these things so long after the fact. I wonder if the older girl ever suspected anything as she grew up, especially since he married again so soon after?
    Of course she did. But what could she do? She couldn't even acknowledge that her mother was gone and to perceive that someone lied who was in authority. This is the case so many times. Trusting others to do the job when sometimes they just don't. It is your loved one. The internet has become a very vocal point.It makes it hard to deny.I just want us all to be vocal and sometimes it is hard to take.But, truth comes from it and that is what will get resolve.

  15. #15
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    Does anybody know if his second wife is still alive, did they stay married or end up divorcing later? I wonder what kind of suspicions she had, I would have been scared to death that the same thing would have been done to me!

    Old Broad
    this is just my opinion, it may be wrong, user beware!

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