Crucifixion and

 Shroud Studies

                 Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion 






Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion

Barbet Revisited

Man of the Shroud Was Washed

Forensic and Clinical Knowledge  of the Practice of Crucifixion



The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry


Dissecting Death: Secrets of a Medical Examiner


Forensic Site

No rest in retirement

(Original publication: April 28, 2005)

For more than 30 years, Dr. Frederick Zugibe was Rockland's chief medical examiner, taking over from part-time, elected coroners in 1969 and building an international reputation for himself and his office.

Yesterday, two years after retiring, Zugibe was back at the Dr. Robert L. Yeager Health Center in Ramapo, in the office he nurtured all those years, the office where he ruled on thousands of deaths.

He returned, surrounded by family, friends, former colleagues and members of all areas of criminal justice, as the medical examiner's complex was named after him the Frederick T. Zugibe, M.D., Ph.D. Forensic Suite.

The honor made every bit of sense to Jim Costello, a retired senior investigator for the office, who joined Zugibe's staff in the early days.

"We go back to the beginning," Costello told a crowd jammed into the entry hall and rooms on both sides. Speaking to his ex- boss, he said, "Not only have you sailed the ship for so long. You built it."

Zugibe said he realized very early on that the old county Board of Supervisors had created the post of medical examiner, but not a medical examiner's office.

"I was all alone. No secretary, no equipment, no place to do autopsies and no investigators." Back then, he said, his wife and children would take his calls on their home telephone.

At the old Community Hospital of Ramapo, he found a place where he could do one autopsy at a time. Sometimes, he said, there might be six waiting and he'd have to do them one after another.

He lured Costello away from a job at Letchworth Village to join his staff. "When he came on," Zugibe said, "we were working day and night, six and seven days a week." Soon, he hired two assistant medical examiners, but he still had to create his own forms and make copies of them at his brother's hardware store.

Over the years, the office grew in size and stature and developed a reputation for integrity and professionalism.

During Zugibe's tenure and now under Dr. Lone Thanning, his hand-picked successor, who took over early in 2003, staff stability has been a hallmark, investigator Joe Segelbacher said. "We haven't had much turnover," he said. "I was the rookie the junior investigator for 20 years."

With all the high-visibility cases the office handled, Segelbacher said, his former boss never hogged credit. "He was always talking about how 'we did this' or 'we put this together.' He always recognized others, who dotted every 'i' and crossed every 't.' "

County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, with his predecessor, John Grant, at his side, said Zugibe didn't invest so much passion for the sake of money.

"He did it," Vanderhoef said, "for his love of his community and forensic pathology." He praised Zugibe's sensitivity to Rockland's diverse religions and cultures and said naming the forensic suite for him "pays tribute to the living legacy of someone who will always be part of Rockland."

He said a portrait of Zugibe, presented during the ceremony and displayed between two plaques, "will hang here forever in your honor."

Zugibe hasn't been resting on his reputation during retirement.

Just this week, his newest book, "The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry," is being published by M. Evans and Co. of New York.

In it, Zugibe, an internationally respected expert on the crucifixion and the Shroud of Turin which is believed to be Christ's burial cloth establishes that Christ died not of asphyxiation on the cross, but as a result of shock due to blood and fluid loss because of three hours of beatings.

He ruled out asphyxiation, as theorized by many other experts, by conducting more than 50 years of experiments on cadavers and on living volunteers he suspended on crosses so as to measure the physical effects on their bodies.

And in July, Broadway Books will publish "Dissecting Death: Secrets of a Medical Examiner," written with David Carroll, an account of 11 of Zugibe's most infamous cases. They include the Brinks robbery-murders of 1981 and the 1985 case of "The Man in the Leather Mask" in which a Norwegian student's remains were found in a pre-Revolutionary War smokehouse at a Stony Point retreat owned by a U.N. official. Zugibe was called upon to debunk a defense contention that the student had been stabbed to death before being shot by the U.N. official's son, Bernard LeGeros, who ultimately was convicted in the death.

Zugibe has traveled to Portugal with his wife and has spent more time with his extended family, but he still takes on the occasional private forensic case. He's selective about those cases, he says, proud that no jury has ever believed other expert testimony over his.


The Journal News - October 11, 2005
Ex-Rockland medical examiner writes book on famous cases
Read the article



April 27, 2005 - Rockland County Medical Examiner's Complex named the FREDERICK T. ZUGIBE FORENSIC SUITE


Dr. Zugibe and wife Catherine with Sister Lucia of Fatima on April 28, 2002

Dr. Zugibe lectured on the Forensic Way of the Cross in Fatima, Portugal at the New Shroud Center On April 27, 2002 and to the Carmelite Sisters in Coimbra, Portugal on April 28, 2002. He met with Sister Lucia, who was one of the three children that witnessed the apparition of the Our Lady of Fatima in to Spirit Daily article

  • On August 11, 2003, the Rockland County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution dedicating the Rockland County Medical Examiner's Office  as the "Dr. Frederick T. Zugibe Forensic Unit."
  • Dr. Zugibe has officially retired as Chief Medical Examiner effective January 1, 2003 after almost 34 years of service. However, in the interim he had been retained by the County as Acting Medical Examiner until April 1 when his successor, Dr. Lone Thanning assumed command.

    On April 27, 2002, Dr. Zugibe was knighted in the dynastic order of Our Lady of the conception of Vila Vicosa by His Royal Highness, Dom Duarte Pio,  the Duke of Braganca who is the titular king and Head of the Royal House of Portugal which is bestowed in recognition of great acts and services to the Royal House and the Church. Following the ceremony, a banquet was held in his honor  at the Castle.

    Badge or Medallion of the Order of Our Lady of the Conception of Vila Vicosa

    Dr. Zugibe being knighted by HRH, the Duke of Braganza

  • Dr. Zugibe is one of the participants of the first annual Rosary Congress at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown , N.Y. at 12:30 to 1:30 on September 13, 2003.He will speak on "the Crucifixion: The Forensic Way of the Cross."

  • Dr. Zugibe presented a paper entitled "New Experimental Studies in Crucifixion" at the IV Symposium Scientifique International Sur Le Linceuil de Turin,  Paris,  April 26, 2002.  

  • Dr. Zugibe will appear in the crucifixion segment of the CNN Documentary,     "The Mystery of Jesus" in September of 2003.

He has appeared in the following documentaries in last several years

  • The Shroud of Turin CBC,  segment  on Cause of Death  in  Crucifixion Studies. Easter 1992).
  • HOW JESUS DIED,  the final 18 hours ,  Videocasette (35 minues) Trinity Pictures, 1994.[ Appears periodically on the Learning Channel and on other programs.
  • Faith v. Science -Australia,  III Int. Congress, Turin 1998, 60 Minutes.   appeared in Australia and throughout Europe. Fall 1998
  • History's Mysteries: The Shroud of Turin.  The History Channel.  First appearance 4/3/00 and 4/21/00.
  • The Shroud of Turin:  FOCUS, Channel WLAENew Orleans 4/4/ and 4/5/00.
  • A Forensic Way of the Cross: FOCUS, Channel WLAE, New Orleans 4/4/00.
  • The Son of Man  series,  BBC, Easter week 2001.
  • Jesus the Man   Discovery Channel. Easter week 2001
  • Stigmata and The Shroud of Turin on  In Search Of : Sept. 2001.
  • Stigmata,  GRB Productions,  Learning Channel Oct. 2001
  • Leonardo DaVinci and the Shroud of Turin, National Geographic, Spring-Summer 2002
  • Beyond Endurance,  BBC 
  • The Mystery of Jesus, CNN   April 2003.
  • Dr. Zugibe received the  Journal News Nomination as "One of the Top 25 people in Rockland County who most influenced this region during the Twentieth Century." The Journal News Commemorative Edition, Dec. 31, 1999.

There is currently a vital need for organ donors to treat thousands of individuals whose lives may be extended by transplantation. A significant number of donor organs could arise from medical examiner cases but because of the medical-legal responsibilities of the medical examiner, he may not be able to release the organs. 

  • In this regard, there has been an excellent response to Dr. Zugibe's paper, "Model Organ Description for completion by Transplant Surgeons Using Organs from Medical Examiner Cases" that was published in the "Journal of Transplant Coordination. This paper was also submitted to the National Association for Medical Examiners (NAME) Organ Transplant Study Committee to assist them in their work. This paper presents a series of protocols that we have designed for the transplant surgeon so that can the Medical Examiner can release the organs for transplantation yet maintain the medical-legal integrity of his investigation.. One reviewer for the journal commented " This was a very concise report of a protocol which has direct importance to ALL transplant programs. It may lead to universal adoption of these protocols to deal with Medical Examiner cases."


  • A technique developed by the Dr. Zugibe  for softening mummified fingers for fingerprint identification   previously published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences  is currently used by medical examiner's offices all over the world.  


  • Dr. Zugibe  was one of a handful of scientists and scholars from throughout the world who was invited  to present a paper entitled "Forensic and Clinical Knowledge of the Practice of Crucifixion" at the International Scientific Symposium in Turin Italy, in 2000 and to participate in the viewing the Shroud out of its case for one entire morning.. All expenses were paid by the Turin officials.


  • Dr. Zugibe was recently invited to be a visiting lecturer in forensic pathology for Practical Reviews in Forensic Medicine and Sciences which is jointly sponsored by Albert Einstein College of Medicine & Montefiore Medical Center and Educational Reviews. Practical reviews are audio taped. Dr. Zugibe presented a lecture entitled, "Recognition of Child Abuse."



Appearing the Rockland County Journal News Oct. 13, 2004:


PUBLICATIONS- Recent  (more publications)

  • Zugibe, F.T., The Jospice Mattress Cover Image.

  •  Zugibe, F.T. New Experimental Studies in Crucifixion in 2002 Proceedings of IV Symposium  Scientifique International Sur Le Linceuil de Turin, Paris,  April 26, 2002.                           

  • Zugibe, F.T. Doctors at Calvary: Victims of Crucifixion Were Unable to Push Themselves Up While Fastened to the Cross. Shroud.  Newsletter 53:22-29, 2001. British Society for the Turin Shroud #53, July 200,1pg.22-29.  

  • Zugibe, F.T.   The Hand Wound Controversy; in Proceedings of the 1999 Shroud of Turin International Research Conference, Richmond Va. Edited by Bryan J. Walsh Press, Va. pges. 9-16, 2000. 

  • Zugibe, F.T.   Forensic and Clinical Knowledge of the Practice of Crucifixion; A Forensic Way of the  Cross  in The Turin Shroud; Past, Present and Future, edit. by  Scannerini and P. Savarino. International Sci. Sympos.,Turin, Italy Mar. 2000, Effata Editrice, pges. 235-258, 2000.

  • Dr. Zugibe's manuscript, entitled, "Cardiotoxic Mechanisms and Interrelationships of Cocaine"  was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine (5:140-146, 1998). This paper describes and collates all of the mechanisms implicated in cardiac toxicity and depicts them in chart form for easy visualization. 


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