Kevorkian: This is a video tape recording on Tuesday, October 22, 1991 at
around 8 p.m. at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Miller in Roseville. And we're here
to discuss actually what's called physician-assisted suicide. And we're here to
discuss the wishes of Sherry Miller, Mr. and Mrs. Miller's daughter. And Mrs.
Marjorie Wantz, whose husband Bill is here.
Sherry's parents are here, Mr. and Mrs. Miller, her son Ray, her son Gary,
her daughter Susan, brothers and sisters. And Sherry's very good friend, Sharon
Welch-- Karen. What's your last name, Karen?
Karen Nelson, another good friend of Sherry Miller's. And we're here to
discuss, it's a free for all discussion, of anybody's thoughts and ideas and
opinions and suggestions about the proposed event. It's open for discussion.
I'll start with the first question.
Kevorkian: Sherry, have you thought this over well?
Sherry: Yeah, I have. I thought of it probably a long time, a long time,
yeah I have. And I have no qualms about my decision to ... (inaudible)
Kevorkian: You realize, of course, the implications of your decision.
Sherry: Yup, I do.
Kevorkian: What is the implication of your decision?
Sherry: There's no turning back.
Kevorkian: What will happen?
Sherry: All I have to say is no.
Kevorkian: What is it you want? Put it in plain English.
Sherry: I want to die.
Kevorkian: That's as plain as you can put it.
Sherry: Yeah. And I know there's no turning, I know that. And this is not an
overnight decision. ... (inaudible) waited too long. I cannot do anything
myself. I waited too long.
Kevorkian: Have you ever wavered in this decision? Have there been days when
you said well, maybe I better think about it?
Sherry: No. I would not be here-- I would not be in my situation, no.
Kevorkian: Are you afraid at all? Do you have any fears?
Sherry: No, no, none. ... (inaudible) No fears.
Kevorkian: Okay, we'll get back to you, Sherry, in just a minute. Marjorie,
would you add or subtract anything from what Sherry said?
Marjorie: No. Just that I've been thinking about it. You know how long it's
been. It's gotten much worse. I wish we could do it-- like she said-- I wish
we could have done it a year ago, two years ago.
Sherry: The 14th.
Kevorkian: You're on heavy doses of pain killers now.
Marjorie: Right. I'm on... (inaudible) right now.
Kevorkian: Well, when we were on television recently, "The Dana Show," how has
your situation been since then? Has there been any improvement at all?
Kevorkian: Has it gotten worse or about the same?
Marjorie: It's gotten worse.
Kevorkian: Not even the same?
Marjorie: Not even the same. It's gotten worse. I was on the two patches at
that time. He said try the three. We went on the three. He said try the four
or five. I don't know if I can say this, four or five could slow your heart
down. That could be a blessing, and you could go that way. So, we tried the
five, and I'm wearing the five.
Kevorkian: Were you hoping when he said that?
Marjorie: Yes, that maybe that would be the way. Maybe that would be four.
Kevorkian: Do you have any fear at all about what--
Marjorie: I'm a little nervous. I have no fear of it; I'm a little nervous.
Because I've been waiting so long. You know, waiting for the medicine. And
then it wasn't coming. And then maybe we couldn't do it. The waiting. A week
seems like you're waiting a month. Three days seems like three months when
you're hurting and going crazy.
In Sherry's situation, I have tried myself three different times, and I have
not succeeded to do it. I don't know what I did wrong, but I didn't succeed.
Kevorkian: Were you kind of apprehensive when you tried it yourself?
Marjorie: No, no. No, I tried to-- as you know, the car, I put the hose on
the exhaust and through the window. I stayed in the car over three hours, I
tried it three times. Nothing happened. And my doctor told me within about 25
minutes that's all it should take. I was in there three hours. I didn't get
sleepy, I didn't get sick. I felt a little nausea, nothing.
I took 120 ... (inaudible) two different times. And I was told well, 120,
that's nothing, you need 4,000 of ... (inaudible). So, I've tried everything
in short of a gun. I've tried loading a gun, but I don't know how to load one.
If I did, I probably would have. As Bill said I probably wouldn't have
succeeded. ... (inaudible) And this way I feel it's going to be done right.
It's going to be fast, no mistakes. If you did it yourself, you don't know
what you're doing. And I've had it for so long, I don't want anymore of it.
Sherry: That's a sure thing.
Marjorie: I get a half hour of normal sleep at night, with all the pills and
sleeping pills I take. And I've got no quality of life left.
Kevorkian: It's hard for us to imagine because we're living a very comfortable
Marjorie: Yes, it is. And the people that I know come around and say, "Well,
you should get out and do this and do that."
Sherry: "Hang in there."
Marjorie: "Hang in there. And go out to restaurants and eat." When you're in
such misery, you can't wait to get to bed and pop sleeping pills and pain pills
and just sleep. I go to bed all day long, most of the time, with sleeping pills
just to get out of pain. That's the only time I get out of pain is when I
And they tell me, "Why don't you do this." I says, "When you're in a
situation like this, when you're in my shoes, then you tell me what to do.
Until you are, don't tell me what to do."
I have friends, they have migraine headaches, well they're in a bad way for a
day or two during the week. The rest of the time they work, they have a great
time. They're comparing themselves to me. I said, "You can't compare yourself
to me, no way."
And I've been told I can't do anything. Every surgery has made me worse,
especially the last one.
Kevorkian: How many have you had?
Kevorkian: Ten surgeries. ... (inaudible) in the one spot, and this time he
left a needle up there and he won't take it out. No doctor will take it out.
He's left the needle up away from the vaginal area. He will not take it out,
so no other doctor will take it out. He said, "That's not causing your pain,"
he said. I was in pain before this ... (inaudible), Dr. Kevorkian knows that.
I was in pain before the needle was left in, but not as much, since he did this
graph. He did a complete graph, a bunch of stuff off my leg. It's a long
And he refuses to do anything about it. He just says, "Go home and live with
it. Just go home and forget and live with it."
Sherry: Easy for him to say.
Marjorie: It's easy for him to say, very easy.
Kevorkian: Has anyone told you that, Sherry?
Sherry: There's nothing anybody could do for me, and everybody knows that.
Or, I would not be ... (inaudible)
Kevorkian: When you first contacted me, Sherry, did you write that letter?
Sherry: Yes I did, yeah.
Kevorkian: Now you can't write at all, can barely make an X, is that right?
Kevorkian: You can't even direct your hand to the paper, can you?
Sherry: No. I used to be right handed. ... (inaudible) lefty.
Kevorkian: It shows that everybody can learn to use the other hand. Well,
Mrs. Miller, let's have your thoughts. Certainly this is something that's
weighing on your mind.
Mrs. Miller: Yeah, it is. But, I go along with Sherry's wishes. This is what
Sherry wants to do. And we've been living with it, and we know how miserable
she is every day.
Kevorkian: Any negative feelings you have about it? Would you wish that she
didn't do it?
Mrs. Miller: No, not now I don't. Now, I'd like her to go ahead and do it,
because I know that's what she wants to do. Last year, when she first started
talking about it, I was a little bit apprehensive about it and didn't ...
(inaudible) It all came as a shock when she said about this doctor that had
this machine that he would kill her with.
Sherry: Dr. Death, alright.
Mrs. Miller: That really upset me. But, now we've lived with it, talked about
it and just decided this is what she wanted to do. We wouldn't fight her about
Kevorkian: Is that the same with you, Mr. Miller?
Mr. Miller: Well, yeah, more or less. Like I say, I don't know what I would
do if I was in that situation. She wants to do it--
Mrs. Miller: You can't possibly know until you're in that person's place.
Mr. Miller: That's what I say.
Kevorkian: I'm sure Gary and Ray have some feelings like that too. Gary,
what's your real feeling?
Gary: Yeah, my real feelings are that I hate to see my sister kill herself.
On the other hand, I have to respect her judgment that says she can decide her
quality of life.
Kevorkian: Would you feel better if she changed her mind and went on a little
longer? Be honest.
Gary: I've heard her say this for a long time. And I've had discussions over
the years with her. And I've never seen her say, "Oh, I have hope, things are
going to get better. By the way, I plan to get into some form of therapy, or
I'm going to pursue meditation." I've never heard her say, "I'm holding out
And I've gradually seen her, and maybe me more than my parents, have seen--
because I see her more periodically and so the changes are more dramatic to
me. And it always has been somewhat of a shock when I come back to Michigan
and see that this is not theoretical, this is actually a degeneration. I think
she has the right to say--
Sherry: I've had enough.
Gary: That I've had enough. I could not put the needle in her arm. I could not
hold a pillow over her head. But, I'm not going to step in and stop her from
Kevorkian: Is that the same with you, Ray? No different? I'm sure that of
all of you, though, Sharon how about you. She's your best friend. Do you have
negative feelings about it? Really, anything negative at all? I know that you
agree with her decision. Are you saying it because you feel you're obligated to
Sharon: No. My only negative feeling is that I'm going to miss her. I knew
Susan: The same thing is with what my brother was discussed... (inaudible) a
lot and I don't want to lose my sister. But, I want her to have control over
what she does with herself.
Kevorkian: Understand, anyone can interrupt. This is not a question and
answer. The kind of discussion, just come right in and say what you have to
say or ask whatever you have to ask. This is an open discussion. It's not an
I'm sure there is, I would feel, there's a negative aspect to this. And I'm
sure everyone else, and all the relatives and friends--
__: Well, it's the loss, I think, the loss and the wish that you could do
something about it. The wish that you had any kind of control over any part of
Bill Wantz: I hear people talking like for you. I don't want to lose this one, but I
see her every day. I see her in her pain every day. I can't wish-- I'm not
wishing that she wouldn't do it, if I don't know how to ... (inaudible). I told
her on the way up, if you don't want to do this, we can check in the motel,
spend the night and go back home.
Yet, knowing if I take her back home, she's in the same situation she was when
she left, and getting worse.
Marjorie: That's right.
Bill Wantz: But here again I don't want to lose her. Because if I lose her, I'm
alone. Maybe it's selfish of me to feel that way.
__: Right, it's selfish.
Bill Wantz: But, when I drive away from this town and back to my hometown, I'm driving back home alone. I came down with her.
Marjorie: Well, we have children.
Bill Wantz: Well, the kids live in their own lives. I would be in the house all
alone. They got their own lives, they got their wives and kids and stuff like
that. To see her like this, if I were in her shoes I would say the same thing.
I can't deny maybe some day I will be in her shoes, I don't know. I hope by
that time, if I'm in her shoes, a case like hers or Sherry's, that there's
somebody out here who can do something for me, rather than me trying to do it
I've told Marge I don't want her to try to do it herself because the
consequences of not doing it are real great. Like taking a gun-- I don't think
she could do it with a gun because she doesn't even know how to pull the
trigger on the gun, let alone load it. If she got it loaded and pointed in the
right direction, just pointing in the right direction ain't going to do the
Marjorie: We should tell them about the night--
Bill Wantz: She did get it loaded.
Marjorie: You got it loaded.
Bill Wantz: Well, no, you got it loaded.
Marjorie: You loaded it and didn't know that it was still loaded.
Bill Wantz: I didn't know she was going to get her hand on it.
Marjorie: But, I didn't know it was cocked. Well, I don't know when a gun is
cocked or isn't.
Bill Wantz: The gun went off, she shot a hole in the chair, in the cushion.
Marjorie: Well, I was trying to figure out if it was cocked. And I was lucky I
didn't shoot my foot off.
Bill Wantz: She pinched ... (inaudible) the only thing that happened.
Marjorie: I wanted to... (inaudible) it, but I was trying to cock it and it
went right through the couch.
Kevorkian: So, what size bullet is it?
Bill Wantz: It's a 9 millimeter.
Marjorie: The shell stayed in.
Bill Wantz: There was a defective shell on top of that because it sort of-- How many
times you got a defective shell, but it didn't work. I mean, it didn't punch a
hole in the couch.
Marjorie: That ... (inaudible) it off.
Kevorkian: Karen, I hear you agreeing. What are your thoughts on all this?
Karen: Well, I don't want to lose her either. But, she's suffering. Every time
I see her she's worse.
Sherry: You know ... (inaudible)
Bill Wantz: And it makes you feel kind of guilty that you are selfish.
Karen: Right. I come over and visit and I go home, and I'm fine.
Bill Wantz: You walk away from it. But, her parents don't walk away from it. Just
like anymore than I walk away from this one.
Marjorie: And you can go home, and I would give anything in the world-- I
haven't been out of my house in almost three years, just to go to the doctor. I
would give anything just to be able to go in a store, just a grocery store just
Karen: Little things that we take for granted because you can't put-- Just
comb your hair, feed yourself.
Marjorie: I can do that, but I can't walk very far. I'm in such pain, I can't
get into any stores. I say people should realize how lucky they are when they
can. You can go into a K-Mart or a grocery store.
Karen: Sherry's not in pain, but she can't do anything.
Bill Wantz: There's other pain besides just physical.
Marjorie: That's right.
Karen: Her quality just isn't what she wants.
Bill Wantz: I see Sherry living in a body that she can't even control.
Sherry: ... (inaudible)
Bill Wantz: I see one arm that's in ... (inaudible) and the other one that she can't
control it, or if she wants to do it-- And that can be awfully painful too,
just as painful as Marge here. Marge has got the physical pain. And a lot of the
mental pain too, because there are things that she wants to do that she can't
do. Like she says, sleep even, she don't sleep. Yeah, you get a half hour
sleep at a time. She'll get up and go to the bathroom and I'll go back to
sleep and I'll look at the clock when I went to sleep. It's an hour later and
she's still sitting in the bathroom.
It's not only the idea of the surgery, she can't-- the other parts don't work
right either because of the surgery.
Marjorie: Because of the way he-- He's messed me up.
Bill Wantz: He did. He messed her up. I don't say the doctor did it on purpose, just
to take an experiment. No doubt he thought he was doing a good job--
Marjorie: I think I wasn't challenged, and I think he-- I was like a guinea
Bill Wantz: There was a challenge, well that's true. And she's the one who's
suffering for it. It's not that we didn't tell him to go ahead and do it.
But, every time he said we'll do this, it's supposed to make you better. Well,
it didn't make her better; it made her worse. And then when it got worse, well
we'll do this, this will make you better.
Marjorie: And when it didn't--
Bill Wantz: And many times later (Simultaneous conversation)
Marjorie: When it didn't he became colder and colder and more distant and more
distant. And just that I imagined it was hurting like this and he got real,
real hateful, really bad. And then he had a partner come and join his practice,
and he was a completely different person. He understood what had happened and
couldn't understand why he had done some of the things that he had done, other
than experiment, experiment on me.
Bill Wantz: His partner's statement was when he first seen her, the first time he
looked at her, he said, "My gosh, woman, how long you been like this?"
Marjorie: No, that wasn't his exact words. The exact words-- If you want to
know his exact words, "Holy shit, how long have you been like this?" That was
his exact words, Dr. ... (inaudible)
Kevorkian: More expressive.
Marjorie: And that was last January, the first time I met the man.
Kevorkian: Well, what is this widespread, this practice? Of course, I've
talked about this before. I think there should be several options for people.
Now, Sherry and Marjorie are having one option. Of course, it's done
unilaterally by me. That's what people criticize, I give them the option.
Society doesn't offer it yet.
The one option is to humanly quickly and painlessly to have life ended, that's
one option. I think I've discussed the others with you too. The second option
is, for example, let's take Sherry's case. Now Sherry has got a good heart and
good organs, except the central nervous system.
And I ask patients-- I do this routinely because it's just sort of a research
project. I ask them-- Because these are just questions that nothing can be
done. But the options second-- There have got to be three options.
The second option-- Sherry would have the second option too, which is donating
organs. Now, Marge you probably could have that option too. How old are you?
Kevorkian: Very close to the limit of donating organs, though. And the
process of-- You have an infectious process too. Isn't that infected? So you
probably couldn't donate organs, but Sherry could. But, you would get option
three. Sherry also could get option three.
Marjorie: They said I've taken so much medication that my kidneys are probably
Kevorkian: That's right, you could not donate your kidneys. Sherry might not
either, be able to donate the kidneys.
Marjorie: That's what they told me.
Kevorkian: But, she could donate heart and lungs and liver. Sherry's liver
could save two babies. Sherry then would get only two of the options; you
would get all three.
Now, the second option is donating organs. Now, that wouldn't apply to you,
but it would apply to Sherry. And the third option would apply to you and
Sherry. Donating organs wouldn't be done the way we're going to do this. It's
not a quick one; it's a prolonged process in which you're put to sleep under
anesthesia like a hospital operation, routine operation. And you just won't
wake up. It's the same thing, it's painless and humane, but it's not quick.
Then while you're under the surgeons would take organs, because that's the way
they prefer to get them. But, the same way, option three, is to do an
experiment and you would get choices there. See, I want to give the patient the
maximum latitude in choosing value of life and death. As it is now, none of us
really has a maximum opportunity to choose our value of our lives, and our
Our death is really valueless, it's negative.
Marjorie: Because my heart-- You know I have a left ... (inaudible)
Kevorkian: You couldn't donate, no. But, experimentation, you could give the
choice. If a patient said yes, if I wanted to donate organs, that's the way it
would be done. Sherry could say no, I don't want to donate organs, I want an
experiment done on me. And then Sherry could say-- she could choose the
experiment. She could say you can do an experiment of only this. In other
words, she could say only on multiple sclerosis. Or, she could say any
experiment you want.
So, these are options that patients should have because that maximizes the
Marjorie: What I want to know is-- and I think we talked about this before and
you said, yeah there would be no problem, but it's not clear in my mind. I
know they do autopsies, but I want a real complete autopsy in my bottom end
Kevorkian: You will get a complete autopsy.
Marjorie: I mean complete. There's something wrong there, and I want a
complete-- because I know there's something else that he has not found, or he's
done, and he knows he's done wrong. I would like that that be done.
Kevorkian: Automatic with Medical Examiner. Both of you will come under the
jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner.
Marjorie: Is it just like a normal one?
Kevorkian: They're very detailed. Medical legal is very detailed, it's very
Marjorie: Because I want it very detailed in that area.
Kevorkian: It's much more than a routine autopsy that they do in hospitals.
Now, Marge, what would you pick? Would you just want a quick, painless and
humane death? Or, would you pick to be put under anaesthesia from which you
don't wake up on an operating table, and there will be an experiment done. You
could say no surgery on the experiment. You could say only a ... (inaudible).
You have the choice of what you want. And the doctors are obligated to honor
Now, don't say what you think I want to hear, or anybody wants to hear--
Marjorie: I never have given it a thought, and I'm trying to think--
Kevorkian: You will have to think about it and we'll get back to you later on
this. Sherry, what would you pick of the two options?
Sherry: I just want out.
Kevorkian: You don't want any organ donations and no experiments?
Kevorkian: Okay, option one.
Kevorkian: That's what you want to do?
Sherry: I think so. Although I've never really given it any thought.
Kevorkian: This will come up in the future when this is widespread practice
and all patients would have these options. Some would say donate-- AIDS
patients, for example, all say experiment on me because they realize that
there's got to be a lot of work done on AIDS.
And since they're not going to suffer-- They're put under like an operating
table under anaesthesia, they don't mind. They say do an experiment on me.
Marjorie: How do you know what the coroner-- Is that what they call them, a
Kevorkian: Medical examiner.
Marjorie: -- will do a complete autopsy?
Kevorkian: It's by law.
Marjorie: But, isn't it just a-- Here I go again--
Kevorkian: No, it's by law.
Marjorie: I mean, I want extreme, extreme--
Kevorkian: Can't explain it--
Karen: It's a law.
Marjorie: I know it's a law. I just ... (inaudible) I want to be cut like ten
ways down here to see if they've missed anything.
Kevorkian: Marjorie, you know what they will do? They will take a little
piece of skin where the needle was stuck in your arm, and analyze that for the
chemical. That's how detailed it is. They don't do that--
Marjorie: He left that needle, that hook--
Kevorkian: Don't worry about it, it will be a very complete autopsy.
Mr. Miller: You say there's an age limit on--
Kevorkian: Organ donation.
Mr. Miller: Oh yeah, on all, eyes and everything?
Kevorkian: No, I don't think-- the eyes are clear, you can take them. But,
people over 60, their eyes aren't always clear. But liver and heart, 55 I think
now for heart, and I think it's near 60 for the liver. That used to be 40, 45.
They're raising the limits all the time.
Mr. Miller: I didn't know that. (Simultaneous conversation)
Kevorkian: No, but the doctors would know that. If you said, "I'll donate,"
they'll know from your age. Yeah, Mr. Miller, what were you saying?
Mr. Miller: I thought they took anybody, any age, as long as--
Karen: -- healthy. Yeah, was a healthy heart. I've got my eyes checked off
and my kidneys and anything of value.
Kevorkian: Well, the eyes you can see. You can see if it's clear. They take
only the cornea. They don't take any other part of the eye. But, the other
organs you can't see, you don't know, so they go by age. And the chances are it
would be somehow disease, you know, arteria sclerosis or something.
Well, that question will be asked in the future, and some patients-- No one
judges you that you just want a quick one. No one judges you. I mean, it's
just the choice of a person himself or herself.
Marjorie: I think we lived with it so long that we just want it quick, you
Kevorkian: Sure, that's understandable. And beside that, some people would
say, "What do I owe society? It's done nothing for me." I don't blame them for
Marjorie: Then when you see this on TV, how many people are waiting for
transplants of different things, then that makes you wonder too.
Kevorkian: I understand your situation, when it's your own life, and your own
death, you don't feel an obligation to other people. I can see your reasoning
there. There's no judgment at all on my part.
Karen: I'd like to know what's going to happen to Sherry after it's over?
Kevorkian: Well, there will be a complete autopsy and then the body is
released to an undertaker.
Mr. Miller: Do I have to identify the body?
Mr. Miller: Nobody has to identify it?
Kevorkian: No, I don't think-- Did they do that with Adkins?
Mr. Miller: There has to be some identification. They find the body--
Kevorkian: Well, they take my word as a doctor.
Mr. Miller: In other words, you verify--
Kevorkian: I verify who it is and what the circumstances were. In fact, I
call it in that way. I called it in that way. I call it in as there's been a
physical-assisted suicide. They weren't used to that, they never heard that
Karen: Are you going to do that again?
Karen: Are you going to do that again?
Kevorkian: Yes, yes. I'll have to notify the sheriff's office and--
Karen: So, eventually, it's going to get out to the media.
Kevorkian: Oh, it has to.
Bill Wantz: Is this in the same county you did it--
Margery: Oh, it's in Oakland County?
Kevorkian: Yes, I did it purposely that way.
Margery: We were ... (inaudible) get it in Oakland County.
Kevorkian: We could have done this in another county, but I did it this way
purposely because the authorities are really handling --
Sherry: ... (inaudible)
Kevorkian: Tomorrow? It's a park, ... (inaudible) Park, right. There's a
little cabin there. And there's a wood stove, but I don't know if we'll need
the heat. It's going to be a pretty good day tomorrow. But, it's nice and warm.
We walked in and looked at it. It's comfortable. It's got bunks for 20 people,
for children and all that.
__: No inside toilet facilities.
Mr. Miller: Do you know where it's at?
Marjorie: No, I don't--
Kevorkian: We'll explain how to get there. In fact, we'll go together.
We'll lead the group out.
__: ... (inaudible) out there.
Kevorkian: It's really by itself.
Marjorie: Or is it like anybody ... (inaudible) register.
Kevorkian: Yeah, somebody is there, office hours.
Bill Wantz: How many are going to be there in this room?
Marjorie: He will not recognize me, will he?
Kevorkian: I don't think. He may not recognize me, but I'm going to stay in
the car. (Simultaneous conversation)
Mr. Miller: Okay, another thing I want to know. After they take the body,
don't they have to notify me or her that they got the body?
Kevorkian: Yeah, but I'll do that. I'll notify them right away. I'll notify
... (inaudible) right away if you're not there. I'll notify anybody whose not--
Sharon won't be there. I'll notify you right away. I called Ron Adkins first.
Then I called the Medical Examiner, and he said, "No, no, you got to call the
sheriff," so I called the sheriff, he gave me the number. And then that's all.
I did by law.
I'll call you first.
Karen: Do you know, if I was there, would I get in trouble?
Kevorkian: No. Bill asked me the same question.
Bill: I asked the same question.
Kevorkian: I just checked with my attorney on that, just tonight.
Kevorkian: I talked to Michael Schwartz who's an academician really. He was on
the staff of the University of New York, and he ... (inaudible) And he said,
"No risk, as long as you don't do any helping."
Marjorie: You talked to one lawyer--
Bill: He didn't say there would be any risk to it. I talked to one lawyer,
and he said-- this is back home-- And he said, "Make sure your wife makes the
decision." He said, "The best thing would be is have her go to the place and
then call you to come."
Marjorie: But, I had no way to get up here by myself.
Bill: She had no way to get up here.
Kevorkian: No, my sister was with me last night--
Bill: I talked to another lawyer and he said, "Well, here is no law against
what they are doing. It's been proven that the assist-- they cannot prosecute
for the assist even." So, he said, "If they can't prosecute for the assist,
there's no law against suicide because how are you going to make a law against
suicide to the person that commits suicide? How are you going to punish one for
Marjorie: It was brought up about that Mr. Harper. But that was a whole
Bill: Harper's case was different.
Marjorie: Harper's case was different.
Karen: You won't have to go to court.
Bill: Think about easy, I realize that she tried it. (Simultaneous
Kevorkian: But, my youngest sister was in this van assisted me. She was right
there, and both of us were there--
__: You have two sisters then.
Mr. Miller: I thought she was the one that was in the van.
Kevorkian: No, she was in the car. And she drove Janet up there to the park.
I wanted her to stay in the car. And my other sister helped me in the van,
handed me syringes and fluids and things. But, I did everything, I set it up,
so I was the one assisting the suicide. That's why-- But, there's no risk for
anybody just watching.
That's like looking at somebody jumping off a building. If they did that,
they'd have to arrest everybody down there looking.
Mrs. Miller: How long do you think it will be before the news guys get it?
Kevorkian: There's a leak in the Medical Examiner's office by the police, in
the State Police there's a leak.
Marjorie: By Wednesday night it will be on TV.
Kevorkian: They'll know by Wednesday-- If we did this-- If it were finished
by 10:30, 10:00 in the morning, 11:00 in the morning, they know by 1, 2 in the
Kevorkian: They'll ring your phone.
Bill: She told me, stay in a motel. I'll ride up with him.
Marjorie: That's what I say.
Kevorkian: They may want to question you. (Simultaneous conversation)
Marjorie: When he gets home, he's going to go visit his daughter in Utah. He's
not going home for a whole month where we live, because we figure there will be
reporters. So, he's just going to disappear.
Kevorkian: By the way, this device is not electrical. There's no electricity
in this place, no running water. This device is now mechanical, I've modified
it. That alone is going to create a hub-bub.
__: Can I ask how old your children are? How many children do you
Marjorie: I have two boys. One is 34 and the other one is 30. We had been
married before. Both lost our first spouse. So, he has two daughters, I have
__: How do they feel ... (inaudible)
Marjorie: They wrote the letters and everything. They hate to see it happen.
They're very-- upset.
Bill: Well, I'll tell you the way they said it, "We agree with my mother's
medical decision. We won't interfere with it."
Margery: My other son wrote a beautiful letter.
Bill: The other son wrote a beautiful letter with it. He said, she's been
all over the country and she's done this, she's done that. Now, it's time that
somebody helps her. And that he agrees with her decision.
Marjorie: I had one man on the show, on "The Dana Show," say "Well, go to every
state in the union." Well, how many places can you go? Like I told him, we've
been to Mayo's two or three times, ... (inaudible) twice. University of
Michigan, University of ... (inaudible) plus going to ... (inaudible)
Kalamazoo. Where do they think you're going to go?
I mean, they think you're loaded with money, that you can travel and fly
anywhere. Places, I've been enough places, I've seen enough doctors.
__: It's their choice too what they want to do.
Marjorie: Right. And I think it should be anyone's choice. If that's not
their choice, then that's their business.
Bill: And even as Marge has said, as long as they don't have to pay the bill.
Marjorie: They would not believe what we have spent in three and a half years.
No one would believe what we have spent flying all over the country. We had to
stay here for six weeks after four of my surgeries renting an apartment in
Farmington Hills. We have spent $20,000 in three and a half years, and I'm
worse than I've ever been. No better; I'm worse.
So, you can't say keep trying, and going here and there because that's not the
answer. It is not the answer.
Kevorkian: Marge and Sherry, how do you feel about being together when this
Sherry: That don't bother me. In fact, when we had lunch together I said,
"... (inaudible) wouldn't mind with Marjorie."
Marjorie: I wouldn't mind it either. Not at all, not at all, ... (inaudible)
Kevorkian: You know, this is mechanical now.
Marjorie: That's what I was going to ask you. Are we hooked up together? Do
you put a ... (inaudible) between us? Or, is she here, am I here?
Kevorkian: There's a lot of tubes. Yeah, there's the salt solution which we
start needle injection into the vein for each of you. And then it's a ...
(inaudible) I had to make a wide connection--
Marjorie: But, are we together?
Kevorkian: You're side-by-side. And there's a little space between you.
There's a stool, like a little stool. And then the stool, I clamped the device.
It's a mechanical device-- Make out of wood, this is made out of wood.
Marjorie: Not ... (inaudible) metal.
Kevorkian: No. And there's no electricity and no ... (inaudible) noise,
nothing. They can't say machine anymore.
Karen: Like the death machine.
Kevorkian: It's really a device. It's like the other one is a device. It's
more foolproof, I think--
Marjorie: You know it may take me four times longer.
Kevorkian: Not with this drug.
Marjorie: With my medication.
Kevorkian: Penthathol would put you under very fast no matter what.
Marjorie: I hope so.
Kevorkian: This is twice as fast as penthathol, but it wears off twice as
fast too, so it's got to be quick. This has got to be quick. It's with a
regular dose, it will last five to eight minutes of anaesthesia. But, we're
going to have a continuous drip with a bottle, so--
Marjorie: The whole thing, timing wise?
Kevorkian: Timing wise should probably be the same, or a little shorter than
Janet Adkins. It should be under six minutes.
Marjorie: Before we're unconscious?
Kevorkian: Oh, before you're unconscious? Anywhere from 15 to 20 seconds, 25
Mr. Miller: Is it close enough to ... (inaudible) Park, and just carry Sherry
in? I don't need the wheelchair?
Kevorkian: Yeah, I think so. Margo, the parking for the cabin was very
close, wasn't it? It may be about 60-70 feet or so. Bill and I can carry her,
don't worry. Bill, you want to be there? That's your decision. You have to
let me know. Think it over. Do what you think is best.
Marjorie: I want you to do what you feel comfortable with. Don't do what you
think I want.
Kevorkian: Don't do what you think someone wants you to do.
Marjorie: Do what you're going to feel comfortable with.
Bill: I'll be there.
Marjorie: Now you notice I didn't have ... (inaudible)
__: I'll just hide.
Kevorkian: There are mattresses in all the bunks. They're about this big.
And what we'll do is we were thinking of folding cots and all that, but we said
the best thing is take the mattresses and stack four or five here and four or
five there. It's the best there is. Very solid and comfortable. They'll be a
space between this stool is announced-- I clamped the device on the stool. It's
a wooden device. And then we hang three bottles on there. And the salt
solution. I'll start the IV and each Sherry and Marge, make sure it's dripping
well. And that can go as long as they want. I have two or three bottles, I put
another bottle out, big bowl.
They want to talk to each other for an hour, we'll do it.
Marjorie: I have all the linen ready, and it's all immaculate, all white, all
Kevorkian: You're going to have to do this together, you're going to have to
do this together. One arm will be tied down. I have an arm board that's
comfortable. It's got a pattern. And we'll tie the arm down so you don't jerk
it or move it with a needle in your arm. And then we bring needles--
Marjorie: It will be put here.
Kevorkian: Well, wherever you got good-- How are your veins, by the way? I
know Sherry's got excellent veins.
Kevorkian: That's why we want your arm to be tied down. Then I have a wide
tube from each bottle with salt solution. It goes down to the vile, a nice
split. One goes to you and one goes to Sherry. And then there's a rubber
nipple on the needle down by your arm. And then each bottle, a second bottle
of the sedative solution comes down and splits ... (inaudible) One needle
goes into the rubber nipple on yours, and one goes on to Sherry's. And those
are clamped on. Those are clamped off on this device.
The third one is the potassium chloride, then a muscle relaxant. So that when
you're under, unconscious, your muscles will be paralyzed. You can't breath.
Sherry: That's what I need now.
__: A muscle relaxer.
Kevorkian: Well, she won't breath. That's what I mean, it will paralyze the
breathing muscles too when they're unconscious. And the mixture is in the
third bottle, and that comes down to splits, and that goes into the other side
of the rubber nipple.
So, you have one tube going into your needle, with a needle coming in and a
needle coming there on each of you. Now, what you'll do, Marge, the other arm,
you and Sherry's arm, I got you tied together at the wrist.
Once Sherry can move, your right one, you're tied together, since you can move
very well, Sherry and you will then reach up and Sherry will put her finger in
the ring, and you'll put your finger in the ring. And you'll have to guide
Sherry. But, she could do it too. You just pull the ring, you pull a string,
and that opens a valve.
First of all, you reach up and turn off the salt solution with Sherry's hand
attached, you turn off the salt.
Marjorie: What are we going to be doing, just pushing a button?
Kevorkian: No, because there's no electricity. So you just turn off the salt
solution by turning the little wheel, it's easy.
Marjorie: You'll be telling us all this.
Kevorkian: I'll be telling you all this. And then you reach into this ring,
you and Sherry, you pull the ring. And you hold the arm out like that with
Sherry. You hold the arm out, straight out, up right. And that ring-- You've
cut the saline off, that ring turns on the hypnotic, the sedative solution
which will put you sleep within 20 seconds, 25 seconds, as soon as it gets into
And then when you're asleep and sleepy, your arm with drop and you open a
third valve, once you're asleep. As soon as you go to sleep the third valve is
opened when your arm drops.
Kevorkian: The weight of your arm will open it.
Kevorkian: Automatically. It's more foolproof than the electrical device.
Marjorie: ... (inaudible) you started to say when you fall a sleep, then
you're going to open up the--
Kevorkian: You do. When you fall asleep, your arm drops.
Marjorie: I thought you meant I will do it--
Kevorkian: Which is the best way to do it--
Marjorie: -- I would if I'm asleep.
Kevorkian: As soon as you fall asleep, your arm will drop and that's
Mr. Miller: What time are you talking about tomorrow?
Kevorkian: Well, we should --I think-- get started as early as possible, I don't
know. What's comfortable for you, Sherry?
Sherry: Any time.
__: 9 o'clock. I think if we're there for 8, and Marjorie has to reserve the
room. That's going to take a little time.
Kevorkian: Yeah, if we get there at 8, by the time you get to the cabin it's
going to be close to 9, registering and all that. And when I set it up, it's
going to take another--
Marjorie: If it's registering--
Kevorkian: No, it's been reserved. Every weekend the cabins are taken. It's
very strange. People go there to relax. There's no electricity, no running
water, outdoor john. It's a beautiful setting, on a little lake. Beautiful
Marjorie: But it has been reserved.
Marjorie: Yes, I reserved it.
Mr. Miller: But where is this, up ... (inaudible)
Kevorkian: No, it's-- You know Adams Road, up to what is that road, ...
Kevorkian: It's between-- What is the road ... (inaudible)
Margo: Silver Bell, it was near Silver Bell.
Kevorkian: We have a map. We'll show you on a map, Mr. Miller. We got a map;
we'll show you.
Marjorie: You're not picking us up, are you?
Kevorkian: I don't know. What's the best way to do this? We have to talk
that over too.
Marjorie: She doesn't know where it's at, so I said--
Margo: You still want this on tape?
Kevorkian: I don't know-- Are there any questions about this? Ray, Gary,
Susan, Karen, any questions? Any part of it that you want to dig into, that
you want to understand better?
__: How long will we ... (inaudible) the body at the coroner's--
Kevorkian: Medical Examiner? Well, they'll keep, I think-- __: ...
Kevorkian: No, they'll keep it longer because they're going to do chemical
tests. And they'll keep it fairly long. They'll keep it I think maybe a week.
I don't know, I'm guessing.
Because this is an extraordinary thing to them. And they're going to have to
do a detail analysis.
Bill: Can't they do the analysis even if they--
Kevorkian: Well, they'll take the tissue samples and do the analysis.
Bill: Then they'll give the body over, I doubt it.
Kevorkian: Margo, how quickly did they release Janet Adkin's body, do you
Marjorie: Because we're going to have somebody coming up to be getting me.
Margo: Jack, I don't think there's a comparison. Here there are two bodies.
Kevorkian: I know, but how long did they release- How long did they take to
release them? It was longer than usual. Her husband complained--
Margo: But, there was a memorial service. Was she released by then?
Kevorkian: No, I don't think so.
Bill: Because the police-- If there's any question of anybody's doubt or
Kevorkian: Longer than usual.
__: I thought Mr. Adkins was only like three days.
Kevorkian: Do you have any experience with that, Kerry?
Kerry: No, just that any time someone dies under circumstances like this, they
check everything out.
Gary: I understand that, but they can take samples. They can take blood
samples or stuff like that and still release the body. It isn't a must that
__: His case is famous.
Kevorkian: If they're afraid of missing something, they'll take their time.
Bill: The only thing is I've got to know.
Kevorkian: They'll let you know.
Marjorie: Because you have plane reservations.
Bill: Because I have reservations to go see my daughter.
Marjorie: So, he doesn't have to go home.
Bill: I'm not trying to run away. I just don't want to go back home.
Kevorkian: Have you made funeral arrangements? Have you made arrangements?
Bill: I got a guy to come up and pick her up.
Kevorkian: They'll let that undertaker know.
__: -- that guy and then they'll call ... (inaudible)
Marjorie: We just don't want to go home--
Bill: I've got to know where I've got to be.
Kevorkian: Well, you don't have to know. They'll send the body to the
Mrs. Miller: Well, the undertaker will go get the body.
Kevorkian: They'll go get the body, I think.
Sherry: ... (inaudible) put me in a coffin ... (inaudible).
Kevorkian: Do you feel like talking about this some more?
Sherry: No, I do not.
__: We've talked about it. We know what--
__: We know what she wants.
__: Yeah, we know what she wants.
Kevorkian: The Medical Examiner, there's nothing you can do. I don't touch
anything when it's over. I don't tough anything after it's started.
Marjorie: Like ... (inaudible) call- how long will she be?
Kevorkian: I don't know. I'll give you the number to the Medical Examiner's
office; they'll let you know. I'll give you the number.
Bill: Well, I'll have to let him know some way what time to pick her up.
Kevorkian: They'll notify the undertaker, I think, won't they, Karen?
Marjorie: I think they're going to contact somebody.
Kevorkian: They could call across the state, Marge, that's nothing. The first
thing I'll do is notify you that it's done. And then I'll call-- I'll call the
attorney, my attorney. And then I'm calling the Medical Examiner, these three
in a row. This is quite a ways out, so it'll be probably, I would guess, 45
minutes before the Medical Examiner--
They'll also send out an EMS vehicle. And they're try to resuscitate.
They'll put a cardiogram on, they'll put an EKG. And they'll see the EKG is
flat, so they won't do anything. Otherwise they'd have to try to resuscitate by
Now, I had a cardiogram running on the other case and it was flat. And they
still put one on anyway. They have to by law.
__: You had one of your own.
Kevorkian: This one I won't have a cardiogram.
__: In other words, we can leave town for awhile if we wanted to.
Kevorkian: Oh sure.
Marjorie: That's what he's going to do, to get away from-- if there are
reporters. He's going to be gone for a month.
Kevorkian: Are you all going to be able to cope with the emptiness
Mrs. Miller: We've been talking about it. Maybe we'll go with these kids to
Bill: Like I say, I'm going to see my daughter.
Marjorie: He hasn't seen his new granddaughter who's two years old.
Bill: I'm not trying to run away from Oakland County police department,
sheriff department, or whatever. But, on the other hand, I don't want to have
a bunch of reporters hanging around the airport-- (Simultaneous conversation)
Bill: I'm wondering, once it's all over, can we drive away from the police
before they get there?
_: No, I don't think so. I'm guessing no.
Marjorie: Can he go say I'm buzzing off?
Kevorkian: No, I don't think so because if they ask me who was there, I'd
have to say you were there. There's no legal risk. It's just that they'll
take your name and you were there, that's all.
Marjorie: They won't haul him off--
Kevorkian: They got Ron Adkins at the airport, because he didn't know--
Kevorkian: They arrested him at the airport. But, the authorities let him
Bill: He said after he didn't see any authority until five years later.
Mr. Miller: If I take Sherry out and laid her out--
Kevorkian: Oh, then you could leave.
Kevorkian: You can wait until Sherry has the needle in here arm and the salt
solution is running and she's talking before anybody pulls any string. You
could leave before the string is pulled. Because you left while she was alive
getting medical treatment.
I think if there's no more discussion we'll draw the tape to an end.
FRONTLINE / WGBH Educational Foundation