Local News

Autopsy: Durham Cellist Died Of Asphyxiation

Posted September 5, 2003

— An autopsy report released Thursday suggests Durham cellist Janine Sutphen died of asphyxiation.

Two fishermen found Sutphen's body in Falls Lake on May 29. According to the medical examiner's report, her body was wrapped in a black sleeping bag, then a silver tarp, another sleeping bag, and finally a green tarp.

Officials said her legs were bound with chains, and there was duct tape around her neck, chest and legs.

The medical examiner who performed the autopsy noted he was hindered by the degree of decomposition. Because there were no obvious signs of injury, he attributed the death to asphyxiation.

Sutphen's husband, Robert Petrick, reported her missing in January. After her body was found, police charged him with murder. Prosecutors have said they were waiting on the autopsy results before deciding whether to seek the death penalty against Petrick.

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