At some point early in the autopsy procedure, Dr. Francisco told Dan Warlick that he would not be needed any longer in terms of the investigation into Elvis’s death. Warlick took Francisco’s comments to mean that the investigation should not continue. So what did he do then? We can review his actions in the autopsy suite another time, but for now let’s look at Warlick’s claim that he took a nasal swab of blood. Why did he do this, if Francisco told him that the investigation into the death (as it were) should discontinue? Or a better question might be, why did he do this at all?
Earlier that afternoon, around 4:00pm, Warlick was told by Dr. Bell that Elvis’s death was a possible overdose [OD], or a suspected overdose, but Warlick dismissed this as a product of Bell’s vivid imagination. When Warlick interviewed Dr. Nichopoulos and Tish Henley at Graceland, though, he did not ask about a possible OD, or any drug abuse by Elvis. Further, Warlick saw two syringes in Elvis’s suite, but did not ask about these, either.
Hours later in the autopsy suite, when Warlick took it upon himself to take the nasal swab, the only reason could have been to test for cocaine. Why did Warlick want to take a swab to test for cocaine if he earlier ignored Bell’s OD suspicion, he ignored the syringes, he ignored the absence of any medications in EP’s bathroom (absence = removal), and he failed to ask Nichopoulos, Henley, and Ginger Alden about drug abuse?
Why only later did Warlick suddenly suspect cocaine use? And why did Warlick take this swab without direction, and without notifying Francisco, when the blood (and other fluid) samples would have already been scheduled for testing as part of the standard autopsy protocol (re: toxicology testing)?
Warlick (Deposition2, pg. 65): “Anything that I did in the autopsy room as pertaining to taking samples, I would have done, as I understand it, to be within the scope and field of my employment and my normal duties investigator — as investigator for the Shelby County Medical Examiner’s office. But Dr. Francisco did not direct me to take that sample.”
We’d have to ask, then, why this one act was considered “within the scope” of Warlick’s job as the ME’s investigator, when he was not directed to take this action, and he had been directed (with rather imprecise language, admittedly) to cease his investigation? Did Warlick take any other samples that he didn’t mention to Francisco? Urine, tissue, spinal fluid…? Possibly. But we do know, from his own words, that he did take a blood sample from the nose. If taking a nasal swab was part of his job, why didn’t he tell his boss he was doing this? (It’s a bit strange that Warlick brushed off the “OD” question by Dr. Bell due to Bell’s suspicious nature, and yet Dr. Bell is the only person Warlick told about the nasal swab he took to ostensibly test for cocaine.)
And finally, why didn’t Warlick later give this sample to Francisco or the pathologists?
In a nutshell, Warlick was told to stop his investigation, and at that point he took a nasal swab of blood and walked it over to his office and placed it in the refrigerator without telling Francisco.
Why did Warlick take this nasal swab? Why did he remove it from the autopsy suite and keep it in the refrigerator in the ME’s office? Why did he tell no one of this sample except Dr. Bell, who then, months later, told him to throw it away?