Editor, Your Tango
She wasn’t found until the next morning.
President Donald Trump started a frenzy on Twitter this week that’s making people take a second look at another beloved morning show host.
On Wednesday, POTUS tweeted about an “unsolved mystery” involving NBC’s Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough and an intern found dead in his office back in 2001 named Lori Klausutis.
So now that Matt Lauer is gone when will the Fake News practitioners at NBC be terminating the contract of Phil Griffin? And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the “unsolved mystery” that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2017
According to police, the “unsolved mystery” Trump was demanding to be investigated was solved a long time ago. But the president brought life back into a conspiracy theory about Lori Klausutis’ death.
From 1995 until 2001 Joe Scarborough, 54, served as a U.S. Congressman in Florida. Lori Klausutis worked as an aide to the Republican congressman.
On July 19, 2001, Klausutis was found dead in Scarborough’s office, slumped over by a desk. According to the Northwest Florida Daily News, a couple discovered the 28-year-old’s body the next day as they arrived at the office for an appointment around 8 a.m.
Foul play was ruled out after an investigation by local police and Okaloosa County Associate Medical Examiner Michael Berkland. The aide had passed out from an abnormal heart rhythm, which caused her to fall and strike her head on the desk. Klausutis’ head injury was determined to be responsible for her death, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
The St. Petersburg Times also stated she had told a colleague earlier that day that she was feeling unwell.
“It kind of leaves me with a sorrowness, but I’m glad it’s finally resolved,” said Fort Walton Beach Police Chief Steve Hogue, who was in charge of the initial investigation into Klausutis’ death. “It brings some finality for the family.”
A police investigator told the Washington Post that authorities investigating her death left “no stone unturned.”
Scarborough resigned from office two months after Klausutis’ death, stating he wanted to spend more time with his family. He also took to Twitter to quickly respond to Trump’s post.
Looks like I picked a good day to stop responding to Trump's bizarre tweets. He is not well. https://t.co/XJhW5ZHNfs
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) November 29, 2017
Despite the medical reports ruling Klausutis’ death an accident, some have turned to a conspiracy theory about the incident, where the former congressman was somehow involved in her passing.
A Twitter exchange between Scarborough and Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos blog, got Moulitsas banned from being on MSNBC. The banter than got him banned is as follows:
Markos: Like story of a certain dead intern. RT @JoeNBC: Luckily for the White House, the media has been negligent on this story since Day 1.
Markos: But if you want to talk about bullsh-t “scandals”, @JoeNBC, there’s this one about Joe Sestak and the White House you might’ve heard of.
JoeNBC: @markos Unbelievable. You have a long history of spreading lies suggesting I am a murderer. This is the 3rd or 4th time by my count.
Markos: @JoeNBC, I’ve never suggested you’re a murderer. I’ve noted media hypocrisy in going after Gary Condit. But he was Dem. You aren’t.
JoeNBC: Anyone in media who interviews @markos, know that you’re extending your credibility to someone who regularly suggests that I’m a murderer.
Markos: A bit touchy, @JoeNBC? Links for where I accuse you of being a murderer please.
This incident just fueled the conspiracy that Scarborough had something to do with Klausutis’ death. Another situation that conspiracy theories use to light their flame is an old article by Vanity Fair that tried to link Scarborough with the death of his aide.
Fox News reported that Scarborough said Vanity Fair’s story was “shameful reporting spawned a thousand conspiracy theories.” He wasn’t wrong — theories popped up left and right about the Republican and Klausutis, including some about a sex scandal between the two that lead to her murder.
“It’s terrible that people are still referring to this as a mystery,” former journalist who covered Klausutis’ case for the St. Petersburg Times told the Washington Post. “It’s not a mystery.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the Lori Klausutis, the intern found dead in Scarborough’s office 16 years ago and why people think she was murdered:
1. She was very involved with her church.
The Naples Daily News said that she sang in her church’s choir and often volunteered as a cantor at a local Catholic congregation.
2. Klausutis was married.
Her husband, Timothy, was a Florida native. He served in the U.S. Air Force and was devastated by his wife’s death. He wrote on an Internet account that “being married to Lori” was an honor.
3. Her nickname was “Little Miss Mary Sunshine.”
.@jaketapper yours is an irresponsible tweet. I'm based in FL, and interact often with the law enforcement community statewide.
Very unsettling questions about the death of Lori Klausutis and the history of the ME who signed off on the case remain. https://t.co/LhL1mkgX0q
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) November 29, 2017
Her friends and family spoke nothing but good things about her. The St. Petersburg Times saidthat her friends said Klausutis was a happy woman, and they often called her “Little Miss Mary Sunshine.” She was taking college courses and she and her husband were happily married and just moved into a new house.
4. The medical examiner spent 80 hours determining her cause of death.
Here's what the local medical examiner said in 2001 about the death the president is calling on people to investigate: pic.twitter.com/aXl2lHK8UA
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 29, 2017
After an estimated 80 hours of examination and research, Okaloosa County Associate Medical Examiner Michael Berkland finally determined that Klausutis’ death was an accident. The Northwest Florida Daily News said that Berkland closed “an investigation that had dragged on despite an early determination that no foul play was involved.”
5. She was in a coma as a teenager.
Let's remind the world who #LoriKlausutis was. She was a beautiful, smart intern working for Joe's, found dead at her desk with blunt force trauma to her head! A felon performed her autopsy said it was an accident! Poor Lori!
— Becky Peterson (@BeckyPeteson) November 29, 2017
In her teen years, Klausutis was involved in a traffic accident that put her in a coma. She also suffered from short-term memory loss after the incident, according to relatives.
6. She was an avid runner (and very healthy).
— Boston🇺🇸Bobblehead (@DBloom451) November 29, 2017
Klausutis was a member of the Northwest Florida Track Club and had run an 8K recently before her death.
7. She wasn’t found until the next morning.
According to the medical examiner, she died on July 19 before the end of the workday. Her body wasn’t found until July 20 at 8 a.m. when a couple came to Scarborough’s office for an appointment.
8. The medical examiner lost his license in two states for lying about autopsies, adding to conspiracy theories about her death.
Michael Berkland had lost his medical examiner license in both Missouri and Florida for lying about autopsies. According to the Northwest Florida Daily News, his license was revoked in Missouri in 1996 for providing false information about an autopsy and in 1999 his ME license was suspended in Florida and finally withdraw in 2003.
Human body parts were also found in a storage unit belonging to Berkland in 2012.