Cyril Wecht, famed pathologist who analyzed JFK, Elvis, JonBenet Ramsey deaths, dead at 93

Dr. Cyril Wecht, a famed forensic pathologist and former Allegheny County medical examiner, died "peacefully" Monday at the age of 93, according to Pennsylvania officials.

Renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht died "peacefully" Monday at the age of 93, according to Pennsylvania officials.

The former Allegheny County medical examiner famously analyzed the deaths of President John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley, JonBenet Ramsey, Anna Nicole Smith and others. He previously weighed in on the Gabby Petito and Ellen Greenberg cases for Fox News Digital.

"He was the first civilian permitted to examine the evidence from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy at the National Archives, and the first person to discover that the President’s brain, and related material, was missing," an obituary from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts states. "He was the nation's foremost critic of the Warren Commission's infamous single bullet theory. He personally conducted tens of thousands of autopsies, consulted and testified in countless criminal and civil cases, spoke around the world to professional, lay, and student groups, held several faculty appointments, authored dozens of books and hundreds of scholarly articles, and collaborated on numerous film and television projects, including the award-winning films JFK and Concussion."

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro described Wecht as "a legendary figure in forensic pathology and criminal justice" in a Monday statement posted to X, adding that "the way he pursued truth and justice is an inspiration."


"Throughout my career, Cyril showed me a genuine kindness and taught me many lessons on public service. Today, Lori and I are praying for his wife Sigrid, their four children, and the entire Wecht family. As I said today to his son, Justice David Wecht, Cyril lived a full, impactful, and meaningful life. May Cyril Wecht’s memory forever be a blessing," Shapiro said.

Dr. Michael Baden, also a renowned forensic pathologist, worked with Wecht on the Select Committee on Assassinations for the U.S. House of Representatives, which examined the murders of JFK and Martin Luther King. Jr.

"He was very smart. He was a lawyer as well as a forensic pathologist. He had won some oratorical awards in college. He was a very good speaker," Baden said of his late colleague. "And he was devoted to his family. He had his wife. He has his four children. And they met every week — every Sunday or so, they had dinner together. He was very much a family person as well as a public person."


He was a "controversial" figure "who was not afraid to hold an opinion" that different from the public, Baden said.

"I met him when he was the coroner in Allegheny County. And he came to the medical examiner's office in New York City to help Dr. [Milton] Halpern,the chief medical examiner, where he disagreed with an opinion in the case that Dr. Halpern had … a nd I was impressed with somebody who would come in and articulate his differing opinion very, carefully and very scientifically."

Baden said "there were two giants" in forensic pathology: Wecht and Werner Spitz, who died about a month ago. Baden believes it is a sign of generational change in the field. 

Born to immigrant parents on March 20, 1931, Wecht leaves behind his wife Sigrid, their four children and 11 grandchildren, according to the obituary.

He graduated from Fifth Avenue High School as class valedictorian and went on to study at the University of Pittsburgh. After earning his medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, Wecht joined the U.S. Air Force.


While serving in the Air Force, Wecht met his wife, whom he married after they were both honorably discharged from service. He went on to obtain his law degree from the University of Maryland while working in the Medical Examiner's Office, then obtained his second law degree at Pittsburgh University around the same time his four children were born.

"Cyril embarked on a long and stellar career combining his training in medicine and law, and his then-rare expertise in the nascent field of forensic pathology. Early on, Cyril juggled four jobs – as a forensic pathologist/deputy at the Coroner's Office, as an Assistant District Attorney/medical-legal adviser to the District Attorney, as a pathologist at the Veterans Administration Hospital – Leech Farm, and as an attorney practicing with his friends David and Roslyn Litman," the obituary states.


He was then elected as Allegheny County coroner for several terms and later served as Allegheny County’s first chief medical examiner. 

He founded the Pittsburgh Institute of Legal Medicine and the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University, where he taught for about 60 years.

"He worked avidly and expertly to discover the truth surrounding deaths and injuries suffered by others, and brought comfort and justice for countless grieving and victimized families around the globe. He loved Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, and, although he traveled the world, he never would consider living anywhere else (save for his two years of military service and his brief time in Baltimore after discharge)," the obituary says.

Wecht "loved his family" and made their "happiness, well-being, and education" his top priority.

Data & News supplied by
Stock quotes supplied by Barchart
Quotes delayed at least 20 minutes.
By accessing this page, you agree to the following
Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.