Arizona Daily Star, Mar. 28, 2003
By Stephanie Innes, ARIZONA DAILY STAR
An autopsy of a 50-year-old man whose decaying body was discovered in his home earlier this year could not determine the precise cause of his death.
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Bruce Parks said James W. Killeen definitely did not die from trauma, such as a beating, shooting or stabbing, and he did not find any evidence that the Tucson man had been poisoned.
A copy of the autopsy will be forwarded to the Pima County Attorney’s Office.
Killeen remains in the refrigerated morgue at the Pima County Forensic Science Center, 2825 E. District St., even though the railroad worker has been dead for nearly three months.
Killeen’s dead and decomposing body was discovered in the Tucson home he shared with his wife, Eleanor, on Jan. 23 after his siblings and mother became concerned about his welfare. The case drew attention because police reports said his wife and other members of a religious group had been praying over Killeen’s body for about three weeks, believing that he would be resurrected.
Killeen’s siblings, convinced their brother was under the influence of a dangerous religious group, say he had been on a 40-day fast under the directive of the group, which is known as World Ministries. Killeen, a robust railroad worker, suffered from diabetes – a condition that made it impossible for him to survive a fast, his family said.
Tucson police, who went into the home on Jan. 23, estimated Killeen had been dead for about three weeks when they found him.
The autopsy report says Killeen’s medical conditions included a history of diabetes and hypertension. The body also displayed cirrhosis of the liver and decomposition, according to the report. Parks said he did not see any evidence of chronic malnutrition.
“I find the autopsy results unremarkable due to the extended length of time that my brother lay in his home dead,” Killeen’s youngest brother, Chris Killeen, said Thursday.
Chris Killeen, who lives in Rhode Island, is furious that his brother’s wife did not disclose her husband’s death for weeks. Killeen believes his brother was under the influence of World Ministries and its leader, Stan Bennett, who has denied wrongdoing. Eleanor Killeen could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Failure to report a death is a misdemeanor crime. No charges have been filed in connection with the case.
Chris Killeen hopes to take his brother’s body home for burial, but Arizona law says that Eleanor Killeen takes priority because she is considered next-of-kin. The issue has not been resolved, but Eleanor Killeen has been in touch with county authorities, saying she wants to take custody of her husband’s body.
Chris Killeen is worried that his sister-in-law will not bury her husband and instead will try to resurrect him again.