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Montrose Voice, No. 331, February 27, 1987
File 008
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Montrose Voice, No. 331, February 27, 1987 - File 008. 1987-02-27. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. October 24, 2020. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/2313/show/2287.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(1987-02-27). Montrose Voice, No. 331, February 27, 1987 - File 008. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/2313/show/2287

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Montrose Voice, No. 331, February 27, 1987 - File 008, 1987-02-27, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed October 24, 2020, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/2313/show/2287.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Montrose Voice, No. 331, February 27, 1987
Contributor
  • McClurg, Henry
  • Wyche, Linda
Publisher Community Publishing Company
Date February 27, 1987
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 22329406
Collection
  • University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
  • LGBT Research Collection
  • Montrose Voice
Rights In Copyright
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 008
Transcript FEBRUARY 27, 1987/MONTROSE VOICE 7 The Coroner Who Took on Hollywood By Kathleen Neumeyer INDIO, Calif. (UPI)—When Liberace died Feb. 4 and the people who worked for him insisted he had succumbed to something other than AIDS, they didn't count on Raymond Carrillo. Among physicians a debate is under way over whether a patient is entitled to keep embarrassing health problems secret or if the threat to public safety outweighs individual rights. But no such question distracted Carrillo when Liberace died and Carrillos's office was asked to certify by telephone a death certificate citing heart disease and a brain disorder as the cause of death. What did concern Carrillo, a portly moon-faced businessman elected in November after promising to rid the cor- oner'3 office of corruption, was determining the exact cause of death. "They were trying to pull a fast one on the Riverside County coroner's office," said the 56-year-old Carrillo. "I think they were trying to pull something they thought they could get away with." Born in Arizona and raised since infancy in this once-sleepy and now booming desert town 40 miles from the more well-heeled resort community of Palm Springs, Carrillo spent 10 years as a sheriffs deputy and 14 as a deputy coroner before running for the top job last year. His predecessor, William Dykes, was retiring, and Carrillo's major opponent was chief deputy coroner Carl B. Smith. But a grand jury, looking into charges that unlicensed embalmers had been working in the coroner's office, indicted Smith on perjury charges, and by the time of the June primary, Smith was a convicted felon. Campaigning on a promise to clean up corruption in the coroner's office, Carrillo came in first in the election over Smith but did not get a majority. Carrillo asked the courts to declare him the winner. He lost that battle but was more successful in the November runoff, when he handily defeated the No. 3 vote-getter, Mickey Worthington, in the June primary. Because so many celebrities maintain vacation and retirement homes in the Palm Springs and adjacent Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert areas of Riverside County, the post made Carrillo a kind of new coroner to the stars—a title once used to describe ex-Los Angeles County Coroner Thomas T. Noguchi. Local residents have the feeling that officials kow-tow to the monied Hollywood crowd, and Carrillo says there have been times when bodies have been "spirited out" of Riverside County to Los Angeles for burial. Carrillo's first turn in the limelight came when Liberace died in his opulent Spanish hacienda Feb. 4. His physician, Dr. Ron Daniels, of Whittier, certified that the death was due to congestive heart failure and encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease often associated with acquired immune deficiency syndrome. But Daniels did not list AIDS as a cause of death. The I^as Vegas Sun two weeks earlier reported that the flamboyant pianist was dying of AIDS. Liberace's attorney, Joel Strote, responded with a telegram to the Sun in which he demanded a retraction and denied that "Mr. Showmanship" was dying or that he had AIDS. Liberace, who denied being a homosexual and won a lawsuit in 1959 against the London Mail for making that insinuation, also denied through his spokesmen that he had AIDS. His long-time business manager, Seymour Heller, said Liberace had anemia brought on by a watermelon diet. As Liberace lay dying, his New York publicist, Denise Collier, maintained he was suffering from pernicious anemia, emphysema and heart disease. There were those who didn't believe it, and when the entertainer died, Carrillo's office came under a torrent of telephone calls from people asking what the coroner intended to do about it. His chance came when health officials in Los Angeles asked Carrillo to certify the death certificate so that they could issue a burial permit. Instead, Carrillo ordered Liberace's body returned to Riverside County from Forest I_awn Mortuary in Los Angeles. He also ordered an autopsy, which proved conclusively what Liberace had desperately sought to conceal. "He didn't die of heart disease and encephalopathy," Carrillo said. "In layman's terms, he had AIDS." To those who know the coroner, his conduct was perfectly in character. "There's a general feeling here of a local boy making good," says Dave Michaels, city editor of the Indio Daily News. "There's a general feeling here that he took on the Hollywood establishment. ... It's like Ray to be blunt and come out in the open." The first Hispanic ever elected to such office in Riverside County, which has a large Hispanic population, Carrillo operates a popular Mexican restaurant. He is not a physician, and at news conferences on Liberace's death he deferred to aides on medical questions. Carrillo, who bristles at suggestions he tried to turn the autopsy into a media circus, was testy when asked repeatedly why he had called for the investigation into Liberace's death. "I would be remiss in my duty if I didn't," he said, adding that he has an obligation to investigate deaths that are not attended by physicians and those suspected of involving communicable diseases. Daniels, who had paid a house call on Liberace the day before he died, arrived at the entertainer's residence shortly after 2:00 p.m. on Feb. 4 and pronounced him dead at 2:05 p.m. There has been speculation Liberace had been dead for some time before Daniels arrived because the hearse, sent from Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, a good two-hour drive away, pulled up only a short time later. After the autopsy, Daniels' attorney said the physician suspected Libarace might have suffered from AIDS but had no proof and deferred to the wishes of the entertainer and his family in not listing AIDS as a cause of death. "Given the highly charged nature of the acronym of AIDS, one has to be careful with what one does with the living as well as with the dead in a society that treats that word as a pariah," said attorney William Ginsburg. "It is even more irresponsible to list someone's death as AIDS if you're not sure." Dr. Arthur Caplan. a medical ethicist at the Hastings Center at Hastings-on- Hudson, N.Y.. a research center involved in questions of medical ethics, said he found Daniels' self-defense "disingenuous." He said that "all the physician has to do to be sure is to do a blood test." Caplan said a debate is under way in the medical community over the varying weights to give to a patient's right to die in privacy and to keep his medical problems to himself, and the greater harm to society from a communicable disease such as AIDS. He noted the "longstanding tradition that a doctor has a moral obligation to respect the patient's wishes about who knows about his disease, and that includes spouses, lovers, friends and the news media." Caplan said doctors fear that if patients believe a doctor cannot be trusted to keep his medical secrets confidential, "this will discourage others, out of a fear of stigma, from getting medical help. They will choose to die at home. "What it boils down to is that a communicable venereal disease, a sexually transmitted disease like AIDS, is a strong enough threat to the public health to compel disclosure." While Caplan believes the need to track an epidemic makes mandatory reporting of communicable diseases essential, he questions whether the media absolutely needs to report causes of death. "In cases like syphilis, cancer and suicide, we have always tolerated some obfuscation in obituaries," he said. "The public hasn't risen up and begged to be told the truth." BE FAMOUS. BE SEEN. ADVERTISE IN THE MONTROSE VOICE. Crystal's 911 W. Drew 522-7524 Sat., Feb. 28-8pm 'til ? Mardi eras Mask and Costume . Party $100 First Place, $50 second Place Judging 10pm-Happy Hour extended until 10pm New specials Tuesday- under 21 and Nowhere to co Tuesday Is 19-21 Night for All You Ladles who haven't seen Crystal's This Is Your Night! Dance to Your Favorite Music and have a Cood Time Thursday— Do Your Own Thing Night! Show Your special Talent and Win $75 1st Place. Dance, Sing or Whatever. M.C. veronica lake Ladies and Men welcome to Show Their Talent
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