Frank Minyard: How Did Ex-New Orleans Coroner Die?

After the discovery of forty-five dead bodies in the Memorial hospital building in Apple TV+’s medical drama ‘Five Days at Memorial,’ the autopsies of the same become Frank Minyard’s responsibility. In the seventh episode of the show, Minyard informs Assistant Attorney General Arthur “Butch” Schafer and Special Agent Virginia Rider that the bodies have decomposed in the heat for days for him to collect blood samples to perform toxicology tests. Upon Schafer’s insistence, Minyard performs the same and forwards the results to Schafer and Rider. Intrigued by the significance of Minyard’s findings in the case, we have found out everything you need to know about the character. Let us share our findings!

Frank Minyard Was a Real Coroner

Yes, Frank Minyard is based on a real person who served as the New Orleans Parish coroner during Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flood. After the flood, Minyard was given the responsibility of performing autopsies and drug tests on around a hundred dead bodies that were recovered from multiple hospitals and nursing homes, including Memorial, in the city. Minyard discussed the toxicology results of the dead bodies with forensic pathologists named Cyril Wecht and Michael Baden, along with Robert Middleberg, the director of the toxicology laboratory where the autopsy samples were tested. According to Sheri Fink, the writer of the source text of the show, more than half of the 41 bodies analyzed in Middleberg’s lab had morphine and/or midazolam.

Image Credit: WWLTV/YouTube

After the discussion, Minyard sent nine patients’ medical, autopsy, and toxicology reports to experts for an independent review to garner additional information. Two of the three experts classified the nine deaths as homicides while the third one affirmed that the deaths are beyond coincidence. In addition, Minyard interviewed several LifeCare employees on his own. He was also able to interview Dr. Anna Pou with her lawyer present. After consulting several pathologists, Minyard ultimately consulted another one named Dr. Steven Karch. After inspecting the evidence, Karch advised Minyard to classify the deaths as “undetermined.”

As per reports, Minyard finally concluded the deaths of LifeCare patients as undetermined, which seemingly affected the prosecution’s case against Anna Pou. Minyard also believed that the prosecution would have lost the case against Pou if it went to trial, especially when the defense can bring a pathologist like Karch to question the cause of death of each of the LifeCare patients. “We’d lose the case,” Minyard told Fink. “It would not be good for the city, for the recovery. It’s just a bigger picture that I had to consider than just that pure basic scientific thing,” he added.

Frank Minyard Passed Away at Age 91

Frank Minyard died on September 15, 2020, at the age of 91, at his home in Folsom, Louisiana. As per reports, he had been suffering from congestive heart failure. In 2014, around six years before his death, Minyard retired as the New Orleans Parish coroner. He served an unprecedented 10 terms in the position, becoming the city’s longest-serving elected official. He was survived by his wife Nancy, a son and two daughters, a stepson and stepdaughter, multiple grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

Image Credit: Mynette Minyard/YouTube

Even though Minyard had to officially classify the cause of deaths of multiple LifeCare patients as “undetermined,” he personally believes that there is more to those deaths. In the same interview with Sheri Fink, Minyard said that he decided that four of the nine deaths that happened at LifeCare were homicides, including Emmett Everett and Rose Savoie. “I strongly do not believe she [Pou] planned to kill anybody, but it looks like she did,” Minyard added to Fink about Pou.

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