A month after police and a New York City medical examiner ruled a Brooklyn woman died of natural causes, a sharp-eyed embalmer found a stab wound on the dead woman's neck, leading authorities to re-open the case as a murder investigation.
Myrtle McKenny's family didn't believe the 82-year-old Brooklyn woman died of natural causes, and with the help of McKenny's physician tried to convey their concerns to the medical examiner's office, but McKenny's death was officially attributed to natural causes, including hypertension and diabetes, the NY Daily News reported.
Adding to the family's suspicion was the fact that McKenny's body was found under the kitchen table in her apartment, where she lived alone, apparently far enough under the table that she couldn't have accidentally come to rest there. Neighbor Leon Gavin, 74, also said McKenny thought someone had been stealing from her, and helped McKenny -- who couldn't read or write -- make a withdrawal for $800 from a nearby ATM, NY Daily News reported.
The medical examiner listed natural causes on McKenny's death certificate, and her body was passed along to Caribbean Funeral Services in Brooklyn to prepare for her funeral and burial. That's when an embalmer found a small stab wound on her neck, additional cuts on one of her arms, three broken ribs and bruises on her neck and face, WCBS reported.
On Dec. 14, the New York City Medical Examiner's Office revised its findings.
"The cause of death is stab wound of neck and incised wounds of right upper extremity with blunt impact injuries of head, torso and right upper extremity, with contributing condition of hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease," medical examiner spokeswoman Julie Bolcer told NY Daily News. "The manner of death is homicide."
In the Brownsville public housing complex where McKenny lived -- a building that's home mostly to senior citizens -- neighbors were taken aback at the news that McKenny had been murdered. McKinny had lived in the building for 11 years, The New York Times reported.
“They find out that they killed her. I said, ‘What?’” neighbor Eliana Garcia told WCBS. “That lady don’t bother nobody. She was a good lady.”
Police haven't said if McKenny's suspicions about stolen money were true, and as of Dec. 15 it wasn't clear if they had a suspect in the case. A police spokesman told The New York Times that New York Police Department detectives were also looking into how officers and the medical examiner missed the stab wounds and signs of trauma on the elderly victim.