Former Coroner Says Pregnant Woman Allegedly Groomed by Cops While in Youth Program Didn’t Kill Herself: Report

A well-known former coroner says a young woman whose death had been ruled a suicide, was really the victim of homicide, according to a new report. Sandra Birchmore was pregnant when she died in 2021.

She was a former Explorer Scout with the Stoughton Police Department in Massachusetts, joining when she was 13, authorities said. The teen had been “sexually groomed” by some officers in the department, her family alleges in a wrongful death suit, which is ongoing.

An internal affairs investigation released in 2022 by the Stoughton Police Department said three officers had inappropriate relationships with Birchmore, beginning when she was 15 and lasting into adulthood.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case. The investigation remains open, and is led by agencies including state police and the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office, authorities said.

Birchmore’s family hired former coroner Michael Baden, who was previously a New York City medical examiner, to review autopsy findings from the state medical examiner’s office. 

In a June 18 letter to the family’s attorney, Baden wrote, “Ms. Birchmore did not die of suicidal hanging … The cause of Ms. Birchmore’s death is ‘Strangulation’ and the manner of death is ‘Homicide,’” The Boston Globe reported.

Birchmore’s body was found hanging in her home, and a state autopsy determined her death was suicide. 

Baden has consulted on several high-profile media cases and testified for the defense in the criminal trials of O.J. Simpson and Phil Spector.

But Stoughton Police Chief Donna McNamara said this week that Baden’s report warrants further investigation.

“I was profoundly disturbed and troubled by what I read,” the chief said in a statement after The Boston Globe report was published. 

“While I am not a trained medical examiner, and I am not qualified to draw any direct conclusions, the findings certainly warrant further examination at the highest level,” the chief said in her lengthy response.

“Sandra received not so much as a sliver of justice during her life, and we will not cease in our efforts to ensure our duty to administer justice, and she is not forgotten in the aftermath of her death,” McNamara said.

The chief also noted her department has no jurisdiction in the case because Birchmore’s body was found in her Canton apartment in Norfolk County.

This week, a spokesperson for Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey, said in a statement that the investigation continues.

DNA testing has been done on items with the potential to produce evidence of the potential crimes being investigated, and other items have been preserved,” said department spokesman David Traub. 

The three officers named in the internal affairs report, parts of which were publicly released by McNamara in 2022, all resigned after the woman’s death and have not been criminally charged.

They have denied any responsibility in her death, according to published reports. Their attorneys declined comment on Baden’s findings, according to the newspaper. 

Related Stories