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Cancer Claims Former Medical Examiner

June 17, 2008

By Megan Holland, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska

Jun. 17–A man who made a career of death is dead.

Franc Fallico, the state’s former chief medical examiner, died Saturday, said Ann Potempa, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Health and Social Services.

Fallico, 66, had cancer.

Fallico retired from his job as state medical examiner in April, a position he held since 2001. He had been on extended medical leave since October.

“He loved to discuss/debate an issue and would take the opposing side just to challenge an ideology and make you think out loud,” his wife, Hisa, wrote in an e-mail on Monday.

He died at home, watching the movie “The Bucket List” with his wife by his side. The movie is about two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward to do the things they always wanted to do before they die.

During Fallico’s tenure, he was a familiar figure in courtrooms, in the news and among law enforcement around the state. He performed 1,577 autopsies, including those for some of Alaska’s most gruesome crimes. He delivered his courtroom testimony about horrific deaths in plainspoken, matter-of-fact tones.

He performed postmortems on some of Alaska’s most famous murder victims. Recently those have included Mindy Schloss, Lauri Waterman and Delaney Zutz.

Schloss, a nurse, turned up dead and her neighbor, Joshua Wade, who had been previously acquitted of one murder conviction, has been charged with killing her. In the Waterman case, a Juneau jury hung on whether her teenage daughter Rachelle should be convicted of murder. And 13-year-old Zutz was killed by a neighborhood acquaintance now serving a life sentence.

Fallico attended medical school in Italy. In 1976, he moved to Anchorage and worked as a hospital pathologist for 20 years at Providence Alaska Medical Center before becoming a medical examiner.

In 2005, he appeared in the Werner Herzog documentary “Grizzly Man” about the bear mauling death of Timothy Treadwell. His brief on-screen interview telling the riveting details of what happened grabbed the attention of national film critics. A New York Times reviewer said he was a “character around whom an entire reality show could be built.”

A funeral service is planned for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Patrick’s Church, 2111 Muldoon Road. It is open to the public.

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