I am researching a reported suicide of two brothers that occurred in early 1900s. The autopsy report states that the cause of death was poison by potassium cyanide. Here is the report: “These two brothers occupied a bedroom and kept house at xxxxx Street. xxxxx was formerly a Roman Catholic priest disposed for immorality. Since leaving the pulpit Fr. xxxx had been going to the bad, drinking and using his time chiefly in accumulating moral filth to throw at his bishop and other of his clerical brethren. The two were last seen alive at nightfall Dec. 7 by their brother. The latter came by appointment at 2:30 PM Dec. 10 and found the men dead lying in a reposeful altitude on the outside of the bed with their clothes on.

Autopsy: Decomposition in full progress. Blood and tissue fluid suggesting potassium cyanide. No sign of caustic irritant poison in stomach and intestines. Congestion of lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys. Both bodies alike in appearance. Chemical analysis failed to get desired reactions.

I have researched death by potassium suicide and the report describes a death, I think, other than potassium suicide. I think the reported suicide was actually a murder and that the bodies was actually posed before discovery. Any thoughts? Thanks

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I'm certainly not an expert on poisoning, but everything I read on potassium cyanide describes an unpleasant death, convulsions, vomiting, anxiety, pulmonary edema which would cause severe shortness of breath, then coma and death. It's hard to imagine the two men woud be "lying in a reposeful attitude" after dying of potassium cyanide. More likely sprawled on the floor, halfway to the bathroom, possibly in a pool of vomit. Of course, that doesn't rule out suicide by another poison. Were they assuming it was potassium cyanide because a bottle was found on the night stand?
I don't know, but I'll bet Dr. DP Lyle will. He has an excellent and well-deserved reputation for helping writers with questions such as these. His web site is http://www.dplylemd.com/index.html
So they didn't urinate, vomite or soil themselves. At all. I would presume, but i don't have any authority on the subject, you would tear your shirt of at the collar, i presume , cause u really couldn't breathe. The pains and cramps in the stomache, like colvusions. Unless it was given over a certain amount of time in minute doses. But usually bit of foam or spittle fromthe mouth and u usually don't look that peaceful when u die
I'm assuming that the "suggesting potassium cyanide" means that the blood and tissue in question went bright cherry red, but the "reposeful attitude" does strike me as odd.

The pathology references I have say that while cyanide can be quick, it is essentially suffocation, which entails a lot of thrashing about, not a peaceful repose. Unless, they were already paralysed by some other drug, and unable to move while they were dosed with the cyanide, making it murder... or their brother didn't like how they looked when he found them, and posed them to avoid embarrassment.

And thanks to Dana King for the Dr. DP Lyle link, I'll have to check it out.


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