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Dozens Of Consumers Allegedly Duped By Leawood Man Who Posed As A Forensic Pathology Expert

Jeff Roberson/AP
Shawn Parcells speaks during a news conference to share preliminary results of a second autopsy done on Michael Brown Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in St. Louis County, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Shawn Parcells is awaiting trial in Wabaunsee County on three felony counts of theft and three misdemeanor counts of criminal desecration.

A Leawood man who has no medical degree but held himself out as a medical examiner allegedly duped at least 82 consumers , according to Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

Schmidt on Thursday said his office had uncovered 79 more people harmed by Shawn Parcells, who achieved cable news notoriety in 2014 by posing as an expert in the investigation into the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

In a news release, Schmidt said his office has amended its civil suit against Parcells and companies affiliated with him to increase from three to 82 the number of consumers affected by Parcell’s alleged activities.

Schmidt said the state has now taken control of more than 1,600 blood samples and slides collected by Parcells and is working to identify families with legal claims to them.

Parcells had a contract with Wabaunsee County to conduct coroner-ordered autopsies but failed to complete them in accordance with Kansas law, the civil suit alleges.

Parcells is awaiting trial in Wabaunsee County on three felony counts of theft and three misdemeanor counts of criminal desecration.

Earlier this year, Parcells began marketing COVID-19 testing services to the families of victims of the novel coronavirus, offering to test tissue samples. A court order later barred him from doing so.

Although Parcells held himself out as a forensic pathology expert in multiple cable news appearances following Brown’s death, a CNN investigation in 2013 revealed that he did not have a medical degree and that he had exaggerated other credentials.

Parcells continued to call himself a “professor” and advertise “pathophysiology” and “forensic” services as recently as this year, according to a restraining order filed against him by Schmidt’s office.

Parcells, whose age Schmidt lists as 41 but whom other news sites say is 37 or 38, attended Kansas State University. In 2014, he told the Washington Post that he learned how to do autopsies from “on-the-job-training” watching pathologists and assisting them.

The 1,600 biological samples seized by the state are now under the control of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which has catalogued and stored them. They will be released to family members upon verified request.

Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
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