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Silent Witness: The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo's Death

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The heart-wrenching, explosive story of one woman's plight that captured the country's attention, opened medical, political and religious divisions, and started a debate on executive, legislative and judicial powers: the death of Terri Schiavo, told by America's most famous detective and New York Times bestselling author of Murder in Greenwich, Mark Fuhrman.
 
We all watched Terri Schiavo die. The controversy around her case dominated the ...

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Silent Witness

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Overview

The heart-wrenching, explosive story of one woman's plight that captured the country's attention, opened medical, political and religious divisions, and started a debate on executive, legislative and judicial powers: the death of Terri Schiavo, told by America's most famous detective and New York Times bestselling author of Murder in Greenwich, Mark Fuhrman.
 
We all watched Terri Schiavo die. The controversy around her case dominated the headlines and talk shows, going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the White House and the Vatican.

And it's not over yet. Despite her death, the controversy lingers.

In SILENT WITNESS, Mark Fuhrman applies his crack detective skills to examine the medical evidence, legal, and police records. He conducts exclusive interviews with forensics experts and crucial witnesses, including friends, family members and care-givers.

Fuhrman will answer these questions:

*What was Terri and Michael Schiavo's marriage really like?
*What happened the day Terri collapsed?
*What do medical records show about her condition when she was first admitted to the hospital?
*What does the autopsy say?
*What was in Michael Schiavo's mind when he said he wanted to withdraw life support to end his wife's life?

Fuhrman has complete cooperation of Terri Schiavo's parents and siblings, as well as their medical and legal advisors.

The legal issues and ethical questions provoked by Terri Schiavo's extraordinary case may never be resolved. But the facts about her marriage, her condition when she collapsed, and her eventual death fifteen years later, can be determined.

With SILENT WITNESS Mark Fuhrman will go beyond the legal aspects of the case and delve into the broader, human background of Terri Schivao's short, sad life.
 

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In Murder in Greenwich and Murder in Brentwood, former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman examined two famous homicide cases. In Silent Witness, he investigates the controversial case of Terry Schiavo.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641775680
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Pages: 255
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Retired LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman is the New York Times bestselling author of Murder in Brentwood, Murder in Greenwich, Murder in Spokane, and Death and Justice. He lives in Idaho.

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Read an Excerpt

Silent Witness

Chapter One

Fourteen Days to Die

Friday, March 18, 2005

"I felt like Terri was finally going to get what she wants, and be at peace and be with the Lord."

—Michael Schiavo

"I'm begging you, don't let my daughter die."

—Mary Schindler



At 1:45 P.M. Terri Schiavo's gastric feeding tube is removed, following a court order. Schiavo, a forty-one-year-old female, collapsed in her home on February 25, 1990, and suffered severe brain damage because of lack of oxygen to the brain. The precise cause of her collapse remains unknown, although there is speculation that it was the result of a potassium imbalance caused by an eating disorder.

Terri is being cared for at Hospice House Woodside in Pinellas Park, Florida. It is expected that she will die within seven to fourteen days. Courts have ruled that Terri is in a "persistent vegetative state," meaning that damage to her cerebral cortex has rendered her incapable of emotion, memory, or thought. This diagnosis is contested by her parents and siblings, the Schindlers.

Her husband, Michael Schiavo, has argued that Terri would not have wanted to be kept alive in her current condition. Although Terri had left no written instructions on whether or not she wished her life to be terminated in such a condition, a court has accepted testimony from her husband and in-laws that she told them she would not want to be kept alive if incapacitated.

The legal struggle between Schiavo and the Schindlers has lasted more than twelve years, with courts consistently ruling inthe husband's favor. This is the third time the feeding tube has been removed.

Michael Schiavo has two children with his fiancée, Jodi Centonze. If he divorces Terri, he loses custody of her. The guardianship and her estate would be inherited by her immediate family, who have said they would keep her alive. Michael has been in a relationship with Centonze since 1995. Since 1993, the Schindlers have asked Michael to divorce Terri, give up custody, and let them take responsibility for her care. He has always refused.

"Michael and Jodi, you have your own children. Please, please give my child back to me."

—Mary Schindler

"The courts have repeatedly said, this case is not about Mrs. Schindler, Mr. Schiavo or any other third party. It's about Mrs. Schiavo and her own wishes not to be kept alive artificially."

—George Felos, Attorney for Michael Schiavo

The removal of Terri's feeding tube creates a political firestorm. A congressional committee issues subpoenas commanding Terri and Michael Schiavo, along with physicians and other hospice personnel, to appear before them. The committee also moves to intervene in the guardianship case between Schiavo and the Schindlers, and asks circuit-court judge George Greer to stay his order requiring the removal of the feeding tube. Greer denies both motions. The committee's appeals go as high as the U.S. Supreme Court, and are all denied. The Schindlers file a petition for habeas corpus, the same procedure used for prisoners awaiting execution, in the federal district court. Their petition is dismissed.

"Certainly an incapacitated person deserves at least the same protection afforded criminals sentenced to death."

—Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Shortly after her feeding tube is removed, Terri Schiavo receives the Catholic ceremony of last rites. Michael Schiavo stays in a room down the hall. He remains at his wife's side throughout the day, except when her immediate family comes to see Terri. Visiting schedules at the hospice are arranged so that Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers do not see one another. The family spends their time in a thrift shop converted into a temporary headquarters across the street from the hospice. Protesters, most of them supporting the Schindlers, begin gathering outside the hospice.

Saturday, March 19

Police stand guard around the hospice to ensure that no one attempts to give Terri food or water. Barricades are set up on the street. The Schindlers have to pass three separate checkpoints, where they are searched and their IDs are verified, before they are allowed into Terri's room. They can visit only when Michael allows them to, and are not given fixed visiting hours. When they are not allowed to visit, the police will not tell them when to come back and try again. Several days later, the police decided to come over to the thrift shop to let them know when they could visit. Once inside the room, they are forbidden to take photographs or videos of Terri.

"It was horrible. We were treated like common criminals."

—Robert Schindler, Terri's Father

"It was like we shouldn't be there. We were doing something wrong."

—Suzanne Vitadamo, Terri's Sister

Delaying its Easter recess, the U.S. Senate convenes to give formal permission to the House of Representatives to return to session and draft legislation designed to have Terri's feeding tube reinserted.

"A woman's life is at stake, and it is absolutely imperative that we take action today."

—Senator Kent Conrad (R-North Dakota)

Sunday, March 20

Although Terri has spent two days without nourishment or hydration, her family notices little change in her appearance. Her father takes her pulse and checks her skin for dehydration. He examines her pupils with a key-chain flashlight—until police see the flashlight and tell him he can no longer bring it into the room.

Only a few senators are present in the unprecedented session, held on a rainy afternoon in the middle of the Easter recess. The House debate will follow, as members hastily return from their home districts.

"Right now, murder is being committed against a defenseless American citizen."

—Representative Tom Delay (R-Texas)

"This is heart-wrenching for all Americans. But the issue before this Congress is not an emotional one. It is simply one that respects the rule of law."

—Representative Robert Wexler (D-Florida)

Monday, March 21

Waiting for Congress to vote on the bill that might save Terri's life, her family spends all night in the thrift store. After three hours of heated partisan debate, the U.S. House passes, by a 203-58 margin, U.S. Senate Compromise Bill 686 "for the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo." The bill would transfer the case to a U.S. District Court for review.

President Bush flies back from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, to sign the bill into law in Washington, D.C.

"It is always wise to err on the side of life."

—President George W. Bush

Judge James D. Whittemore, a federal judge randomly selected by a computer program to preside over the hearing mandated by the newly signed federal law, hears two hours of arguments yet refuses to rule immediately on whether the state courts had violated Terri's right to due process and her religious beliefs. The Schindlers argue that Terri was a practicing Roman Catholic and the removal of her feeding tube goes against church teaching.

"We are now in a position where a court has ordered her to disobey her church and even jeopardize her eternal soul," says David Gibbs, lawyer for the Schindler family.

George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney, argues that reinserting the feeding tube would "countenance a severe invasion upon the body of Terri Schiavo."

Silent Witness. Copyright © by Mark Fuhrman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Fourteen days to die 1
Ch. 2 "Something's wrong with Terri" 17
Ch. 3 Cause of death 35
Ch. 4 Bulimia 51
Ch. 5 Oxygen deprivation 69
Ch. 6 The bone scan 85
Ch. 7 Money, sex, power 99
Ch. 8 "In sickness and in health" 115
Ch. 9 "Till death do us part" 131
Ch. 10 Time doesn't lie 145
Ch. 11 Michael's story 167
Ch. 12 Possible scenarios 189
Ch. 13 The usual suspect 201
Ch. 14 Statute of limitations 217
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 12 of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2005

    Thank you Mark Furhman for writing this book!!

    I have been anxiously awaiting the release of this book for some time now and when I bought it on the 28th, I couldn't put it down, and ended up reading the entire book that night. Once again Mark Furhman has stepped up to the plate to ask the very important questions, that in this case, should have been asked 15 years ago. I have read most of the court transcripts and just about anything that I can get my hands on concerning this case and Michael Schiavo's story of what happened the morning that Terri collapsed, and the day leading up to it, changes everytime that he tells it. Why did Judge Greer not see this? There are many players in this case who's actions need to be investigated, to include Judge Greer, George Felos, the Sheriff's Department, Bernie McCabe, who Governor Jeb Bush has asked to look into the amount of time that it took MS to call 911 after his wife collapsed, and the owners of the hospice where Terri past away. Over the past several years, Bernie McCabe has put a stop to any and every investigation attempt into this case. He has already stated that he will look into this for the Governor, but as of now he sees nothing criminal. I just hope and pray that this book will open some eyes and a REAL investigation will be initiated, and -IF- Michael Schiavo is guilty of any wrong doing, I hope that he is punished for it. I cannot imagine the HORROR that the Schindler family went through watching Terri die such a slow and agonizing death, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, except for Michael's sudden ALLEGED memory, after 7 YEARS, of Terri saying that she would not want to be kept alive by artificial means (providing food and water to a person does not fall into this category). Michael Schiavo will go on to live happily ever after with his live-in companion of 10 years and their 2 children together, while the Schindler's are left to grieve with so many unanswered questions. I did not even know Terri and I continue to grieve for her and her family, and there are many other people out there that feel the same way, but have been silenced by the media and all of their untruths about this case. Again, I THANK Mark Furhman so much for bringing these very important questions out in the open and Sean Hannity for asking him to do this.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2006

    The Usual Fuhrman Full of Himself Book

    Fuhrman in his usual self centered I'm great attitude wrote another dud. He thinks he knows so much about her medical condition and the boring details in his book seem like he was writing for a Hollywood soap opera. He is the worst, most boring writer. I thought I was going to learn something because I was there in the crowd protesting for her life. All I saw out of Fuhrman was his big head and flirting with lots of women to feed his huge ego as big as the state of Florida. He's a joke and I cannot believe anything he says because he is a cosumate liar and the OJ case proved it. A man in love with his ego, himself and any woman who will give him the time of day. The book has nothing special in it and it was written very quickly after her death and I get the impression that he is a man who will take advantage of any situation if it will get his face in front of a camera. He's a fake and anyone involved with this guy better watch their back.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2005

    Truth now known

    Started reading this book reluctantly. And for a good reason since my instincts were true. Fuhrman writes for shock value. Everything is always one-sided. He says and writes what he thinks people want to hear or read. So anxious to get this book out instead of being a responsible writer of truth, he should've waited for the results of the autopsy and then write about the controversy and how it caused such dissention amongst family, the public and most of all government interference in our lives.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2005

    Nothing new

    The facts in the book on Terri were already reported on the news channels. Mark Fuhrman could have left out the chapters on Cause of Death and Possible Scenaries and dug up more on what wasn't reported on the news channels. Very disappointing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2005

    Dissapointing

    I purchased this book because I had followed the Teri Schiavo case on the news and in the media. I was very intersted in it and wanted to see what the supposedly 'untold story' was. As far as the untold story goes, there were a few things that I didn't know about Terri and her life that were presented in this book. It was relatively insignificant things....for example, her education, her brother's job....etc. However, this book was disspointing because what I wanted to know was what were the results of the autopsy? Where their significant facts to the case that the media was unable to share with the public? None of these questions were even attempted. Finally, it goes in depth with a lot of medical terms and explanations. For example, it goes on for two or three excrutiating pages about what an EKG is and how it works. It was very detailed. I did not pick up this book to get a medical perspective of things....I wanted interesting facts.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2007

    A reviewer

    To paraphrase this book's author, 'This case isn't about the right to die peacefully, or about euthanasia.' Retired detective Fuhrman takes the position that this case is about a man wanting to free himself from a marriage, and doing so at any cost as long as someone else is making payment. I have two criticisms of Mr. Fuhrman's work. First, it should not have been written before the autopsy results for Terri Schiavo became available. They would, I believe, have altered some of his assumptions and therefore some of his conclusions. Second, he repeats material not once but several times not for emphasis, but (in my opinion) to extend the word count sufficiently to make it book length, and publishable as such. With those things said, though, I found myself thinking about the Schiavo tragedy from different angles than before I read Mr. Fuhrman's book. Like a good detective, he accepts nothing at face value and his understanding of human nature, at its best as well as at its worst, illuminates much that never made sense to me before. Worth reading, although the repetition makes even this sad yet riveting story bog down at times.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2005

    a good book to read

    i liked it because i could put myself in terry's parent's shoes, if that should ever happen to one of my chilren. i would want them here with me, even if they couldn't take care of their selves. a very good book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2005

    Still many questions left unanswered

    Fuhrman does a decent job of presenting a case for possible wrong doing, but draws no personally-held conclusions as to what actually caused Terri Schiavo's initial injuries. He presents a number of scenarios based on collected evidence and interviews. All seem at least somewhat plausible. Since the recent release of the medical examiner's report all but ruled out the theory of bulimia causing Terri's original injuries, Fuhrman's scrutinizing of the events of that morning and the implied potential for ciminality seem appropriate enough. This book does not answer the question of why Terri Schiavo became severely brain injured, but it raises some interesting theories and is worth the read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2005

    Outstanding Book!

    This is a very interesting book. It is seen through the eyes of an investigator. While Mr Shiavos family thinks this book calls her husband a murderer, it really doesn't. It provides the facts that do not make Mr Shiavo look very good. You have to draw your own conclusions.This story will haunt me for a long time.

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    Posted January 28, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2009

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