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UK: Heroin Death Girl's Parents Set For Body To Be Exhumed

Discussion in 'Marijuana News from The USA' started by weedboss, May 14, 2003.

  1. The parents of Rachel Whitear, whose dead body was found kneeling with a syringe in its hand, are preparing themselves for the prospect of having her body exhumed.

    Pauline and Michael Holcroft, from Ledbury, Herefordshire, spoke of their latest heartbreak after a third police investigation was launched into Whitear's death.

    Photos of the 21-year-old were used in Rachel's Story, an anti-drugs video for schools, released last year. The video shows how an intelligent young woman from a good family, with a place at university, died a drug addict in a bedsit in Exmouth, Devon, in May 2000.

    But it has since emerged that Whitear might not have died of an overdose. There are disturbing questions surrounding her death -- and the possibility of someone else being involved.

    Michael Holcroft said: 'We have not been asked about an exhumation, but if we were asked and there was a very good reason why they wanted to do that then ... I think we would definitely have to say yes.'

    Pauline Holcroft added: ' It is not a decision we could take lightly. My husband and I are trying to be strong but not all the members of the family find it so easy. But we would all like to know the truth.

    'I know a Home Office pathologist has said that if Rachel was exhumed even now, they would be able to find out the levels of heroin in her body, and if it was a fatal dose.'

    At the inquest into Whitear's death, coroner Richard van Oppen concluded he was 'certain' she did not die of an overdose. Toxicology results showed there was not enough heroin in her blood to kill her, and he recorded an open verdict.

    Questions have also been raised over the police investigation into her death. Her flat was not fingerprinted until two weeks after she died, the family believe, because police regarded her death as just another drug overdose. There were also question marks over the role of Whitear's on-off boyfriend Luke Fitzgerald. She had left him the day before.

    D espite years of decomposition, pathologists would still be able to establish levels of heroin in Whitear's body. Substances ingested before death would be present in the corpse's hair, which does not decay as quickly as flesh.

    Pauline, who has three other grown-up children, added: 'We don't think Rachel's death was investigated properly by Devon and Cornwall Police.

    'I have never used the word 'murdered', but there is the possibility she was not alone when she died. There are still a lot of questions to be answered.

    'After she was found, did the police do a proper investigation or did they just think it was another overdose? Why was there no post-mortem? Only two years down the line are we now dealing with this. We now feel capable of asking these questions. '

    The second investigation, which brought no new information to light, was headed by a junior police officer, but Assistant Chief Constable Steve Pearce of Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed a detective chief superintendent would lead the new inquiry.

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