RHIP – Even in Death

The deaths of Cooper Hospital CEO John Sheridan and his wife Joyce were a tragedy. They perished in a house fire, but knife wounds were found on their bodies. The local prosecutor concluded that this was a murder-suicide, but there are tons of skeptics (including the Sheridans’ sons) who think otherwise.

Among them are three former governors (Florio, Whitman, and Kean) who are asking for the investigation of the circumstances surrounding the Sheridans’ passing.

Based on what has been released to the public, it seems unlikely that John Sheridan would kill his wife, set fire to his house, and then stab himself five times. But I’m no forensic expert, and further investigation is warranted.

But what about the deaths of the not-so-wealthy, politically-disconnected people who don’t make the front page of the local newspaper? They certainly don’t get the attention of former governors or the press prominence that the Sheridans did.

I wonder to what extent investigative resources are applied to inner-city murders, suicides, and other deaths of minorities. Are they treated with the same diligence as the Sheridan case? Do police investigators work as hard finding the root cause of these tragedies?

Because of Mr. Sheridan’s prominence, his death is front page news. The governors are correct in calling for more effort to determine the real truth. But are we allocating similar resources to learn more about the all-too-familiar tragedies in our cities (and suburbs and rural areas) to provide the same closure and follow-up actions for all New Jerseyans?

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