'Forensic pathology expert' barred from conducting autopsies in KS, lawsuit pending

Published: Apr. 4, 2019 at 3:59 PM CDT
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The Kansas attorney general, the Better Business Bureau and families across the United States are warning about a man many call a scam artist.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has placed a temporary restraining order on Shawn Parcells, preventing him from conducting autopsies, forensic pathology or tissue recovery in the state while both a civil lawsuit and a criminal case are underway.

Some may remember Parcells from his testimony in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Mo. and numerous media appearances as a forensic pathology expert.

In November 2014, CNN conducted an investigation that brought up questions about his qualifications. But more than four years later, Parcells continues to offer private autopsies and, according to court documents, he's accused of taking thousands of dollars from grieving families and never giving them the answers he promised.

Among those negatively affected by Parcells is Wichitan Larry Windholz whose wife, Karen, died suddenly in May 2007.

Windholz was left with questions, so he hired Parcells with National Autopsy Services. He says he paid $3,000, but never received the autopsy report he paid for. It's been almost two years of frustration.

Windholz showed Eyewitness News text messages he exchanged with Parcells. He says the more excuses he heard, the angrier he became.

"So after about 12 times-plus, I started getting upset," he says.

Finally on March 13, after Windholz sent numerous texts that went unanswered, Parcells told him the report was finished. He asked for Windholz's email address to deliver the report. A few more weeks down the road, Windholz still hasn't seen it.

Fed up, Windholz reported his experience with Parcells to the attorney general's office.

"I was shaking so much, I couldn't even print my name on the paper to talk to the detective," Windholz says.

He says two years is too long to wait for answers about his wife's death. The National Association of Medical Examiners agrees, saying the standard is for autopsy reports for about 90 percent of cases to be finished within 90 days.

In court documents the Kansas attorney general says Parcells isn't even qualified to conduct autopsies in the first place. In fact, when referring to what Parcells actually does, "autopsy" is listed in quote marks.

The attorney general asserts Parcells has no formal education or license in the healing arts, calling him a "self-taught pathology assistant," and during his exams, there was no licensed pathologist present.

Parcells is accused of deceiving and defrauding families in mourning.

"...I think he's probably needing money more now than he did before," Windholz says. "But I have no hopes of getting that money back, ever. I just want justice for him, whatever the law decides to do.

Eyewitness News has heard about numerous cases of families paying Parcells for an autopsy and never receiving the report. Perhaps the most gut-wrenching is the case of a mother whose two-day-old son died more than a year ago.

Eyewitness News reached out to Parcells' attorney who declined to comment except for to promise that the autopsy report on Windholz's wife would be completed by the end of the week.

However, if Parcells does complete that report, it could be considered a violation of the temporary restraining order telling Parcells to stop conducting business in Kansas.