HBO Max’s crime series ‘The Staircase’ centers around the murder of Kathleen Peterson, who gets found dead at the bottom of a staircase in her home. DA Jim Hardin and ADA Freda Black suspect Kathleen’s husband, Michael Peterson, as the murderer, especially after going through the autopsy report of Dr. Deborah Radisch. To counter her findings, Michael and his attorney David Rudolf hire Dr. Henry Lee, who suggests that Kathleen most likely died due to falling down the stairs. As episode 4 depicts both doctors’ testimonies in Michael’s trial, one must be eager to know whether they are based on real persons. Well, let’s find out!
Are Deborah Radisch and Henry Lee Based on Real People?
Yes, Deborah Radisch and Henry Lee are based on real people. At the time of Kathleen’s death, Deborah was the Assistant North Carolina Medical Examiner. In her testimony in Michael’s trial, Deborah said that Kathleen sustained seven distinct lacerations to the back of her head. When prosecution attorney Jim Hardin asked her whether a blow poke could have been used to kill Kathleen, Deborah confirmed that it could be a murder weapon. Deborah’s testimony was a pivotal part of the prosecution’s case against Michael.
When Elizabeth Ratliff’s body was exhumed, Deborah conducted an autopsy and suggested that the cause of death was homicide for the prosecution to link the death to Kathleen’s. Deborah eventually became the Chief Medical Examiner of the state of North Carolina. She also worked in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine as a clinical professor. Over the years, she had been involved in several pivotal cases that happened in the state.
Henry Lee is one of the globally renowned forensic scientists who had involved in several high-profile cases that happened in the US. Born in China, Lee reportedly emigrated to the United States in 1965. He was involved in famed cases or investigations like the JonBenét Ramsey murder, the O. J. Simpson case, the post-9/11 forensic investigation, and reinvestigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Lee was involved as a blood-spatter analyst in Kathleen’s case. His findings suggested that the blood patterns present at the crime scene were the result of Kathleen’s own actions rather than a murder attempt.
Lee also served as the Chief Emeritus for the Connecticut State Police from 2000 to 2010. The forensic scientist is also a prolific writer, having written or co-written more than 30 books on subjects like forensic science, crime scene investigation, and crime scene reconstruction. He was also the host of the true-crime series ‘Trace Evidence: The Case Files of Dr. Henry Lee.’ With fellow forensic scientists, he also launched the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science, located at the University of New Haven, Connecticut.
Where Are Deborah Radisch and Henry Lee Now?
Deborah Radisch retired as the Chief Medical Examiner for the state of North Carolina in 2019. She currently works as an Adjunct Associate Professor in the department of pathology of a renowned university hospital situated in the city of Durham, North Carolina. As per sources, she is currently based in North Carolina as a renowned medical personality in the nearby cities of Chapel Hill and Raleigh. While Deborah’s professional life as a medical examiner is well documented, she has chosen to keep her private life away from the spotlight.
In 2020, Henry Lee announced his retirement from the University of New Haven after 46 years at the university. Even though Lee considered completing 50 years at the institution, COVID-19 concerns influenced him to retire early. Currently, Lee is a renowned speaker in the forensic circles of the United States. He has been attending seminars, symposiums, and courses regarding forensic science all over the country. He is also the director of a renowned forensic institute. On December 1, 2018, Lee married Xiaping Jiang. He is currently based in West Haven, Connecticut.