Former Allegheny County coroner, world-renowned pathologist Cyril Wecht dies at 93

PITTSBURGH — A world-renowned forensic pathologist who served Allegheny County for two decades has died.

A spokesperson for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts confirmed Cyril Wecht died on Monday. He was 93.

PHOTOS: Cyril Wecht, through the years

Wecht held various roles in Allegheny County, including in the coroner’s office, the district attorney’s office, a pathologist at the VA and the County Commissioner.

During his time as the Allegheny County coroner, Wecht performed about 21,000 autopsies and reviewed or been consulted on 42,000 additional postmortem exams, according to a biography on Duquesne University. Some of the high-profile cases he was involved in include O.J. Simpson, Kurt Cobain, the Menendez Brothers, Scott Peterson, Chandra Levy, Elvis Presley and Jeffrey Epstein. He likewise investigated the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy.

“He worked avidly and expertly to discover the truth surrounding deaths and injuries suffered by others, and brought comfort and justice for countless grieving and victimized families around the globe,” the release from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts reads.

Wecht held faculty positions at several Pittsburgh area schools, including the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University and Carlow University. He founded the Pittsburgh Institute of Legal Medicine and the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne and taught there for around 60 years.

Duquesne University President Ken Gormley, a long-time colleague of Wecht, in a statement, says the school and its community were “blessed by his presence on campus as a professor” and says he will be “sorely missed.” The full statement reads:

“Dr. Cyril Wecht was a globally respected forensic pathologist, a gifted politician, and an incredible champion of Duquesne University. The Duquesne community was blessed by his presence on campus as a professor in the Duquesne Kline Law School for many years. His continued influence is felt through the academic work of the Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law and in the resources of the Cyril H. Wecht Forensic Science Collection. I was proud to call him a long-time colleague. His professional acumen, captivating stories, and keen intellect will be sorely missed by the Duquesne community, the region he served so faithfully, and the entire world that recognized him as one of the great forensic pathologists of our time. On a more personal note, Cyril has been a trusted friend since I began my career -- he never minced words, he had a lively and colorful personality, and he also had a heart of gold. There was, and will only be, one Dr. Cyril Wecht. His passing leaves a void in our hearts forever.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro issued a statement on Wecht, calling him a “legendary figure in forensic pathology and criminal justice.” The full statement reads:

Dr. Cyril Wecht was a legendary figure in forensic pathology and criminal justice, and the way he pursued truth and justice is an inspiration.

Throughout my career, Cyril showed me a genuine kindness and taught me many lessons on public service. Today, Lori and I are praying for his wife Sigrid, their four children, and the entire Wecht family.

As I said today to his son, Justice David Wecht, Cyril lived a full, impactful, and meaningful life. May Cyril Wecht’s memory forever be a blessing.”

He detailed his career and personal life, including his professional pitfalls and public corruption trial, in a memoir titled “The Life and Deaths of Cyril Wecht: Memoirs of America’s Most Controversial Forensic Pathologist.”

According to the statement from the courts, Wecht loved Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, and would never consider living anywhere else, despite traveling all over the world.

“Most of all, Cyril loved his family, and made the happiness, well-being, and education of his wife, his children and his grandchildren his top priority in life,” the statement says.

Wecht is survived by his wife, four children and 11 grandchildren.

Officials say his funeral, burial and shiva will be private but a public memorial service will be announced at a later date.

Contributions to Cyril’s memory can be Stand With Us.

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