Why was Bullet Missed? Water, Time Experts Say

By Christina Hall, Joe Swickard and Gina Damron

Free Press Staff Writers

As Macomb County Medical Examiner Dr. Daniel Spitz examined David Widlak's badly decomposed body, the damage caused by its submersion for nearly a month could have contributed to his missing the contact bullet wound on the back of the banker's neck, Wayne County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt said.

Whatever the case, Oakland County Medical Examiner Dr. L.J. Dragovic, who performed a second autopsy on Widlak at the family's request, said suicide was highly unlikely. "It would take quite a bit of contortionism to self-inflict a wound in that manner," he said.

The bullet that killed Widlak was fired downward into the back of the neck at the base of his skull and took a slightly veering course before coming to rest in the upper right lung, Dragovic said. The possibility that Widlak was kneeling when he was shot "cannot be ruled out," Dragovic said.

Meanwhile, the investigation continued. Authorities must determine whether Widlak's .38-caliber gun, found after a second search of the water near where his body was found Sunday in Lake St. Clair, fired the fatal bullet....

"After four weeks in the water, the brain will certainly deteriorate" and the body decompose, Marlinga said. Still, a .38-caliber fired at close range "is going to cause considerable damage."

Defense attorney Michael Rataj agreed: "I think Dr. Spitz was being careful, waiting for more tests. But I had the same question everybody has - how do you miss it?"

Rataj said, "you better believe" that defense attorneys will try to raise the issue. "It's almost malpractice not to."