A public-health investigation into the death of a woman found hanging in her bedroom may shed light on what a doctor says is a case of tunnel vision. Dr. William Rutherford, director of forensic pathology at the University of Ottawa, was not present when the body of Nicolle Rosenzweig was discovered at her home, but he has written the Toronto Police Service an email detailing his findings.
There are a number of unanswered questions about what happened to Ms. Rosenzweig, whose body was found on Nov. 27, 2017, by her daughter Alyssa, who found her in the bathtub and called 911. The 42-year-old had bruises on her ankles, legs and arms, consistent with standing and possibly kneeling. Her right wrist showed bruising, and many of her bones and internal organs were damaged. Dr. Rutherford, however, writes that Ms. Rosenzweig suffered the bruises after “she fell in a bathroom.” The incident occurred in October, two months before her death.
For Alyssa, this is only one of the discrepancies surrounding her mother’s death. The other is the potential disconnect between Dr. Rutherford’s comments and those of police. He writes that Ms. Rosenzweig appeared to have fallen at her home, and notes that a ladder was found propped up against the wall in the bathroom, near the tub. He also mentions the use of the words “note” and “paper,” but says nothing in his report mentions the presence of notes.
An article in The Canadian Press notes that Dr. Rutherford “does not appear in any police reports in regard to the matter” and interviews with police revealed that they were not informed that he was involved.
“I think they need to answer that first,” Alyssa Rosenzweig told the media. “Then they can disclose to the public what they know, who did what.”
“They’re dodging it,” she said. “I would think their response would be, ‘we’re going to get this exactly right.’”
A spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care said that it was up to police to tell Dr. Rutherford whether or not the report was up to their standards, and said that the doctor will be permitted to continue his work. But state health and safety laws protect a pathologist’s privacy when assisting police in their investigation, and it is not clear whether or not police have sought his consent.
Although Dr. Rutherford’s role has come under investigation, Toronto police have not yet revealed whether or not he was contacted by investigators.
For his part, Dr. Rutherford’s conclusions may change when considering his different perspectives. For one, Ms. Rosenzweig is a drowning victim, and her body had previously been examined by two pathologists who did not report the bruises. Secondly, Dr. Rutherford is still awaiting the results of an autopsy he ordered performed in January.