Was it murder or an accident? A local family is hoping a second autopsy will give them a definitive answer on what happened to Amanda Wienckowski. The 20-year-old woman from Lewiston turned up dead in a garbage tote in Buffalo last year. Her family does not agree with the Erie County medical examiner's finding that Wienckowski died from an accidental drug overdose, so they hired a private pathologist to take another look.
The family's pathologist is Dr. Silvia Comparini from Los Angeles and she arrived in Buffalo on Wednesday on what would've been Wienckowski's 22nd birthday. Her family wants answers about how Wienckowski died, who cut off her hair and stuffed her naked body in a garbage tote behind a church at Clinton and Spring Streets. "The body says someone beat her. Someone. She can't strangle herself," Wienckowski's step-father Ken Fink told Eyewitness News recently.
Wienckowski's family paid to have the body exhumed and examined by Dr. Comparini recently. Comparini determined from that examination that there is evidence pointing to homicide, but at that time she didn't get to examine Wienckowski's trachea, heart or liver because they were still in the possession of the Erie County medical examiner. Wienckowski's family took the county to court over the right to examine those body parts and then the county agreed to allow the examination by Dr. Comparini at the Erie County medical examiner's office on Wednesday.
The attorney for the family, Steve Cohen, was in the medical examiner's office with Dr. Comparini for the start of that examination, but Cohen says he was kicked out when he and Comparini started discussing police photographs in Wienckowski's file. Then Cohen went outside the M.E.'s office and was telling reporters what happened inside when Erie County Sheriff's deputies approached to tell Cohen he would have to end his interview. "You're not supposed to be on property without permission," said the deputy to Cohen. Cohen explained that he had permission to be there and the deputies allowed him to stay.
"We were treated very well until the moment in time where we started to see evidence, clear evidence of homicide and then I was just ejected," says Cohen.
A spokesperson for the Erie County Health Department says Cohen was removed from the M.E.'s office because the County never agreed to allow him inside. The County officials added that they are cooperating fully with Dr. Comparini and will release to her any evidence she requests with the exception of the police photographs because those are the property of the Buffalo police department.
"We found some very good evidence in there that I was taken away from. I had just started to get to the good stuff...where the body was found, the address on the tote, a couple of people that were spoken to, the five police officers who at the time basically determined that it was a homicide," says Cohen.
Although Cohen was removed from the M.E.'s office Dr. Comparini was allowed to stay and do her examination. It's not clear yet when she will release her findings.
Wienckowski's family hosted a candlelight vigil on Wednesday evening at the church where her body was found.