Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Two indicted for morgue photos

Photographer, pathologist face multiple felonies

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Thomas Condon sees the photographs he took last year at the Hamilton County morgue as works of art. A grand jury looked at the photos and saw a crime.

        Mr. Condon and a morgue pathologist now face more than a decade in jail if they are convicted of taking unauthorized photos of as many as 12 bodies.

        The grand jury Monday indicted Mr. Condon, a Mount Auburn photographer, on 24 charges of abuse of a corpse and one count of breaking and entering. The pathologist, Dr. Jonathan Tobias, faces the same charges plus one count of theft in office.

        The photos were taken over the course of five months and feature autops ied bodies posed with sea shells, keys and other props. Prosecutor Mike Allen said the pictures are offensive to the community and to the families whose loved ones were photographed.

        “This is an unconscionable act,” Mr. Allen said Monday. “It's not about artistic expression, it's not about the First Amendment. It's about an individual taking vile photographs without consent.”

        Mr. Condon and his lawyer could not be reached for comment Monday. But his lawyer, H. Louis Sirkin, recently said the photos were part of Mr. Condon's artistic exploration of death.

        Mr. Sirkin has said his 29-year-old client did not break into the morgue and is not guilty of a crime.

        Dr. Tobias, 31, also could not be reached, but his law yer said the pathologist is being made a “scapegoat” so higher-ranking supervisors can avoid embarrassment.

        “Dr. Tobias has been charged for political reasons, not for anything he did,” said attorney Marc Mezibov. “The evidence will show there were a number

        of people who hold supervisory positions who knew full well photos were being taken.”

        Coroner Carl Parrott, who oversees the morgue, has said he did not know Mr. Condon had taken the photos and was outraged when he found out. Dr. Tobias was suspended last month.

        Police found no evidence that anyone other than Dr. Tobias helped Mr. Condon, Mr. Allen said.

        Mr. Condon first entered the morgue last year when he approached Dr. Parrott about documenting an autopsy procedure on film, Mr. Allen said. The coroner declined, but Mr. Condon struck up a friendship with Dr. Tobias.

        That friendship allowed Mr. Condon to gain access to the morgue several times, Mr. Allen said.

        Although neither man broke into the morgue, the grand jury charged both with breaking and entering because it concluded they used “deception” to gain entry, Mr. Allen said.

        The grand jury also charged Dr. Tobias with theft in office because police say he gave death scene photos to Mr. Condon.

        Mr. Condon faces up to 13 years in jail if he is convicted of all charges. Dr. Tobias faces up to 14 years.


Lawmakers gamble with education funding
- Two indicted for morgue photos
Bengals seat settlement may top $1.5M
Police union willing to bend in racial profiling lawsuit
Tenn. woman might be first OxyContin victim
Wed-Cam puts live weddings on Web
Hats off to Batsakes
Luken kicks off mayor campaign
PULFER: Memories of a real champion
Support payouts on hold
Teachers blamed for portfolio snafu
Ex-teacher jailed for sexual Net messages
Girl, 10, escapes rape attempt
Group protests minister's removal from state board
Judge's home under guard
Monzel to get Winburn's council seat
Two suspects in 1977 slaying
New scanners deny access
Parents question kindergarten readiness
Schools clarify redesign policy
Schools seek tax increase
Toledo firm wins bid for Butler Co. fiber optics
Kentucky Digest
Local Digest
Companies indicted in nursing home deaths
Death row case appealed
Taft has surgery to remove tumor
VP debate boosted school, officials say
Weapons permits under fire