DA’s office says cyanide may have played role in UPMC worker’s death |

DA’s office says cyanide may have played role in UPMC worker’s death

Pittsburgh police are investigating whether cyanide was involved in the death of a UPMC researcher, a spokesman with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office said Friday.

“City police and the medical examiner are investigating the death of a woman in which cyanide may have played a role,” Mike Manko said in a statement. “However, the medical examiner has not determined either a cause or manner of death.”

Doctors pronounced Nicole Kotchey, 35, of Ross dead at 12:24 p.m. Wednesday, according to the county Medical Examiner’s Office. Co-workers of Kotchey at a UPMC research lab in the 200 block of Craft Avenue in Oakland found her on the floor in front of her desk about 8:30 a.m. and called 911, the office said. Kotchey’s relatives did not return messages seeking comment.

Dr. Karl Williams, the medical examiner, said investigators are in the early stages of analysis and are awaiting additional test results.

“All we have is a preliminary observation that there may or may not have been cyanide,” Williams said. “These are very preliminary tests.”

UPMC spokeswoman Susan Manko said Pittsburgh police contacted the hospital system Thursday night.

“We have been fully cooperating with authorities,” Susan Manko said. She declined further comment.

Devlin Funeral Homes is handling the arrangements. A Mass will be held 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Teresa of Avila Church on Avila Court. The family asked that contributions be made to St. Teresa of Avila Parish.

A jury convicted University of Pittsburgh researcher Robert Ferrante, 66, on Nov. 7 of first-degree murder for poisoning his wife Dr. Autumn Marie Klein, a noted UPMC neurologist, with cyanide. She collapsed April 17, 2013, in their Oakland home and died three days later. During the trial, experts testified that everyone has some amount of cyanide in their bodies.

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or [email protected].

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