Decades-old ‘undetermined cases’ changed to homicides

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SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane County Medical Examiner is changing decades-old “undetermined cases” into homicides.

Two of the deaths that were reexamined are the murders of Kala Williams and Brenda Thurman.

But some might be asking: Why wait so long to reclassify them?

Chief Medical Examiner Veena Singh says the first priority when it comes to reevaluating cases are current cases. Singh says the reviews are conducted as time is available.

The ME has had a handful of requests over the course of several months and just recently had the time to complete some of the reviews and let the families know of her conclusions,” Singh said.

For the Williams case, the previous Spokane County Medical Examiner said the body was too decomposed to determine the exact cause of the death.

Four other cases are currently under review. Lists of those being examined are confidential at this time. 

“Medical and scientific knowledge is continually advancing, and the ME Office will always make use of new technology and scientific advances to make the most accurate diagnoses possible,” Singh said. “For purposes of death certification, the manner of death classification is made at one point in time during what may be an ongoing investigation. Because of this, cases are never truly “closed”, since new relevant/material information may come to light at any time and the case may be re-evaluated in the context of that new information.”