From autopsy reports to red carpet, 'CSI's' Dr. Telgenhoff has it covered



During Saturday’s “CSI: The Experience” gala opening at MGM Grand, “CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker is joined by two men instrumental in the formation of the franchise: Metro crime scene analyst Daniel Holstein and Clark County forensic pathologist Dr. Gary Telgenhoff.

By John Katsilometes · September 15, 2009 · 6:35 PM

Photo Credit: JUSTIN M. BOWEN
Medical examiner Dr. Gary Telgenhoff, as he appeared in June when meeting the media to report the cause of death of Danny Gans.

Sometimes it takes a red carpet event at a behemoth resort-casino to remind just how uniquely small Las Vegas can seem. It is a city where even a county-employed forensic pathologist can be the focus of celebrity photographers during a teeming-with-stars media event.

That scene unfolded just this weekend on the Strip, and we … were … there.

On Saturday at the MGM Grand, which soon should supplant Reno as the Biggest Little City in the World, “CSI: The Experience” celebrated its grand opening gala VIP/media event. Paraded across the blood red carpet were executives and actors connected with the project, chief among them series creator and Las Vegas resident Anthony Zuiker. Also walking the strobe-lit carpet were “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” mainstays Marg Helgenberger, George Eads, Liz Vassey, Jorja Fox, Robert David Hall, David Berman, Wallace Langham, Paul Guilfoyle and Eric Szmanda.

And hanging around this crew was our favorite Pete Barbutti look-alike, Clark County forensic pathologist Dr. Gary Telgenhoff. I’d not seen this man since June, at a radically contrasting event: the announcement by Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy that Las Vegas entertainer Danny Gans died of a toxic response to the powerful painkiller Dilaudid.

During that event, Telgenhoff and Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy were stoically informing the public of how Gans perished on May 1 at age 52. But Saturday, Telgenhoff was a lot more ebullient, explaining his participation in the “CSI” event and his role as consultant for the series and the new interactive attraction.

“A long time ago, Anthony approached me about this idea he had for a TV show about forensic medicine and wanted to see what went on in a morgue,” Telgenhoff said during a quick red carpet chat (and this is the only type of chat you’ll participate in on a red carpet) as photographers fired away at Zuiker and the more-recognizable celebs. “I wasn’t sure what he was up to other than that, but I’ll talk to anybody with an idea.” In a story that has since become part of Las Vegas lore, Zuiker was working as a Mirage tram operator at the time (and as Zuiker success blooms, his former low-level employment has taken on even less and less prominence, and soon I’m expecting him to say, “I was but a lowly tram operator, being fed only the spare pizza crusts of kindly tourists,”). In his early research phase, Zuiker culled the needed technical forensic education to produce a sensible storyline for a TV series, and consequently cut loose with a hit with the explicitly detailed “CSI.”

The show has since branched out to two other death-defying series, “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: New York,” and has even taken the form of a board game. The attraction at MGM seems the next logical step, if your interpretation of logic is to follow the inspired “Star Trek Experience,” which was a hit at the Las Vegas Hilton for a decade.

Even beyond his role as a “CSI” consultant, Telgenhoff favors entertainment. He’s a drummer and vocalist for the Vegas heavy metal band SkinnerRat, which this month released the aptly titled CD “You Kill Me.” (Telgenhoff’s dual life has been previously reported by then-Las Vegas Sun music writer Spencer Patterson back in our Accent heyday, click here for that story; and more recently, in August, by colleague Abigail Goldman; click here for her Six Questions piece.) A song sampling: “Mama’s in a Can,” “Cold Dead Hands” and “Mabel’s Marbeling.”

As a songwriter, Telgenhoff urns every accolade.


Telgenhoff describes his position with Clark County as “my day job,” and Saturday did offer that he was relieved inquiries into Gans’ death had finally ceased. He’s not big on the celebrity-autopsy form of newsmaking, saying, “I’m just glad Michael Jackson didn’t come through here.” Then he turned away, off to the carpet to pose for the camera on a different sort of crime scene investigation.

More “Zuik”

The first time I met Zuiker was a few years ago in one of the more random circumstances, ever. He was standing next to me at the Green Valley Ranch sports book looking over college football betting lines. On Saturday, I asked him who he liked in the afternoon games. “Today, USC,” he said. I’d just been watching the referred-to game, USC-Ohio State, and said, “It’s 10-3 OSU, second quarter.”

“No!” he said. “It’s 10-10 now! I’m ahead of you.” He snuck a peek at his handheld, I guess, but he lost the bet as USC won 18-15, failing to cover the 7. I’m sure as a result he’s in financial ruin …


Rock Around the Doc: SkinnerRat founder Dr. Gary Telgenhoff balances career, music
Spencer Patterson
Thursday, Aug. 12, 2004 | 8:21 a.m.

On May 28, Dr. Gary Telgenhoff watched as an orderly wheeled up a gurney carrying a body covered with a white sheet.

The experience was hardly new for Telgenhoff. As a forensic pathologist for Clark County, he works with cadavers every day.

Except that on this night, he wasn't in the coroner's office. He was onstage at the Fiesta Rancho.

And on this occasion the body on the gurney didn't remain prone, awaiting Telgenhoff's autopsy.

This time, the sheet pulled back to reveal a very animated personage, guitarist Dick Wagner, who is known for his work with Alice Cooper, Peter Gabriel and Lou Reed, among others.

The event marked the first live appearance of Telgenhoff's rock 'n' roll project, known as SkinnerRat.

Though his position as a medical examiner pays his bills, the 47-year-old drummer and vocalist said he relishes his evenings and days off, when he can write, record and rehearse his original musical compositions. "This is just my day job," Telgenhoff said. "The other stuff is what I love. Rock 'n' roll is my passion."

A love for drumming

Long before he ever considered attending medical school, Telgenhoff was a drummer, pounding away on cardboard boxes at his childhood home in Cadillac, Mich., when his parents balked at the idea of buying him a drum set.

"I was raised in a baptist home," Telgenhoff said. "They didn't want any rock 'n' roll influence going on."

Undaunted, Telgenhoff continued to mimic Ringo Starr's Beatles' parts on his makeshift skins, until his parents eventually acquiesced.

"They found out it wasn't a passing fad," he said.

Hardly. Telgenhoff went on to play in bands throughout high school and college, and made a career in music for 10 years after graduating from Spring Arbor College.

"I was making a living at music," Telgenhoff said. "It wasn't great, but life was fun. I had no responsibilities, so it was all beer and cigarette money, even though I didn't smoke."

In time, however, work began to dry up for Telgenhoff's bands, as the music business in Michigan began to change.

"We were playing clubs and bars, and you could see that times were changing," he said. "Bars were phasing out bands and going with DJs."

Back to school

Telgenhoff decided to return to graduate school, studying physiology and biology at Eastern Michigan University and then attending medical school at Michigan State. He said the latter step was one he took rather grudgingly.

"If you look at me, I'm just not the physician type," said Telgenhoff, a silver-haired gentleman with a slightly sinister glint in his eye. "And as soon as I got around patient care, I knew I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to be responsible for people's well-being."

It didn't take long for Telgenhoff to find something more suited to his tastes, however.

"I had my first rotation in forensic pathology and I knew it was for me," Telgenhoff said. "I'd always been more into the science of medicine."

Telgenhoff also vowed to jump-start the music side of his life again, writing and home recording.

He performed as a one-man band called Badd Medisin, playing half of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album onstage alone.

"I did it to keep my sanity," he said.

Then, six years ago, Telgenhoff moved from Michigan to Las Vegas, taking his job at the coroner's office. And it wasn't long before the next musical opportunity came knocking at his door.

Birth of a rat

While doing research for then-fledgling television series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," producer and creator Anthony Zuiker met Telgenhoff one day while Telgenhoff was performing an autopsy.

The two struck up an immediate friendship, and Telgenhoff began working as a frequent consultant for the show. He said the program's medical examiner, Dr. David Robbins, is in part based on his own character.

"I enjoy teaching and answering all (Zuiker's) questions," Telgenhoff said.

In an e-mail exchange with the Sun this week, Suiker said Telgenhoff "is instrumental in 'CSI' being a success."

"He was crucial during the pilot-writing stage. I was awestruck by his calm demeanor and wry sense of humor," Zuiker said. "I experienced my first autopsy with Dr. T."

Telgenhoff is not paid for his assistance, but at the end of "CSI" season No. 1, the Las Vegan received something he considers far more valuable: musical exposure.

One of his songs, titled "Speak For You," was featured on the season finale, and his name was even mentioned on screen.

Excited by the turn of events, Telgenhoff immediately hatched an idea for an ongoing musical project. SkinnerRat was born.

Since then, Telgenhoff has self-released two CDs under the SkinnerRat moniker, 2001's "Speak For You" and 2002's "In the Box."

The latter features Wagner, a longtime Michigan acquaintance of Telgenhoff's, on lead guitar.

"He called me up and asked if I would play guitar on it," Wagner said. "I said, 'Send me the music,' and when I got it, I was very impressed. His concept is perfect for rock 'n' roll songs."

That SkinnerRat concept centers around psychologist BF Skinner and his principal regarding behaviorism. Skinner held that pleasure and pain could be learned and unlearned, and devised a "Skinner Box" -- in which rats pressed on levers for food rewards -- to prove his theories.

Telgenhoff observed similar patterns in his hometown,

"I see people in casinos tapping on machines and they look like a bunch of rats in a Skinner Box," he said. "We're all out there just trying to satisfy our desires without any thought. We're just pressing down on the food lever."

Telgenhoff approached his first SkinnerRat album from the point of view of a medical examiner. The results, not surprisingly, were rather dark.

"It's not for the suicidal," he said.

The follow-up CD, on the other hand, is more about observations relating to the Skinner theme, bringing together metallic tunes with titles such as "Pain and Pleasure," "In the Box" and "Food Chain."

Out of the box

In May, Telgenhoff brought SkinnerRat to the stage. Wagner flew in from Michigan to participate, providing veteran guitar chops and a healthy dose of name recognition.

"I'm so honored to work with him," Telgenhoff said. "He's such a great musician and such a great friend. It means a lot to me to have his approval."

Filling out the band for the visually spectacular event: local musicians Jeff Isom, Rudy Miller, Keith Larson and Terry Lively, along with performer Shawna Shields.

Telgenhoff expects to have DVD versions of the event available soon through his Web site,

Wagner said he would love to see SkinnerRat mount a full-fledged tour, but don't look for Telgenhoff to leave forensic pathology behind anytime soon to do so.

"That's my dream, but it costs money and you have to have a good job to afford it," Telgenhoff said. "So if your dream ever comes through, what happens to that job you studied so hard to do?"

For now, Telgenhoff said he'll be satisfied trying to perform a few times a year, working on his next album and continuing to work days in order to sit down at his drum set at night.

"I may be a doctor, but I don't think of myself that way," he said. "I've always just been a musician, and that's what I'm most proud of."





Gary Telgenhoff



Gary Telgenhoff’s day job as a medical examiner in the Clark County coroner’s office influences his night job as writer of heavy-metal songs for his band.

By Abigail Goldman (contact)

Monday, Aug. 25, 2008 | 2 a.m.

Beyond the Sun

Gary Telgenhoff is a dark human being. He’s also a doctor. The Clark County medical examiner does autopsies by day and writes morose heavy-metal music by night, as the front man of band Skinner Rat.

Next month, Telgenhoff’s newest album, “You Kill Me,” comes out, featuring Blue Oyster Cult current and former members Eric Boom and Danny Miranda.

What don’t people know about being a medical examiner?

There is no black and white in this profession. You study medicine, but what you see every day is really not based on hard science. You get stuck with cases in the gray zone. You rely on daily experience, street smarts, common sense and other ingredients.

Does your work influence your music?

Directly. My music is about what I do. I was a musician before I went to medical school, but I had no ideas for tunes. As soon as I got into the profession, ideas started falling from the sky and I can’t stop writing. Everything I do really wraps up into one strange package.

You give slide show presentations of curious deaths — do you delight in grossing people out?

I enjoy it and I feel safe doing it because I’ve found almost everybody has this side to them. Everybody has got that morbid curiosity and I exploit that. Why not?

What is it about the work of behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner that prompted you to name your group after him?

He showed how behavior can be influenced. I see the way we are socialized is the way we behave; not only are movies and music reflecting culture, they’re forming culture. I see a lot of the result of that in the morgue.

What scares you?

People who have no self-imposed control. Extremists. People that can’t use logic, that I can’t present an argument to. People who are so sure of what they believe that they ignore all other evidence. Ignorant superstition scares me. In 2008, I’m not sure we have progressed much from the cave.

Has your job made you a misanthrope?

I was a dark person before, but this job hasn’t helped. I have a lot more faith in human nature, I know what people are going to do — the wrong thing. I was born a little adult, and I spent a lifetime perfecting cynicism.





Interview with Dr. Gary Telgenhoff (click to listen to MP3 file)

Dr.T promo

Dr. Gary Telgenhoff is a forensic pathologist for the Clark County Coroner's Office in Las Vegas, Nevada. He's a real-life crime scene investigator and consults for the hit CBS show CSI. Telgenhoff also has had a lifelong passion for music. We hear a track from his band Skinner Rat. A great guest and a great interview with not your average doctor or musician.

Dr. Telgenhoff is in Madison for the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation Fundraiser tonight at the Monona Terrace Convention Center.
listen now FREE PODCAST


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By Matt Seward
Managing Editor

CADILLAC - Gary Telgenhoff is a drummer with a doctor's mind. The 44-year-old Cadillac native has taken what he calls a convoluted path to becoming a forensic pathologist in Nevada.

Telgenhoff has gone from playing in a band in junior high while having a weird curiosity of how the body works, to giving advice for a hit television show, releasing a CD and performing autopsies in the nation's murder capital.

"The first band I was in was Chelsea Crystal. It is almost embarrassing to think about now," Telgenhoff said during a recent stop in Cadillac. "We played high school dances around the area. We didn't do too bad - we made money."

While his musical career was just getting off the ground, seeds were being planted for his professional vocation as well. The two pursuits often intertwined.

"I had a friend who was a meat inspector, and he would bring me tidbits from his inspector's room," Telgenhoff said. "They were things of interest to a weird kid."

One of those interesting little tidbits was a dead pig Telgenhoff kept in his parents' freezer. He dissected the pig a few years before it became a biology class requirement. "My parents about hit the floor," Telgenhoff said about his family's reaction upon discovering the piglet. "I cleared the room and can still clear the room."

"I put the piggy guy in the sink and wanted to see what was inside. When I was done, I would put it in the freezer to preserve it for a future look. After awhile I had to get rid of the pig."

"I never killed any animals," he said. "Early on, I was interested in how things worked. I liked taking them apart but I was never interested in putting them back together."

Telgenhoff admits he was a strange child. He liked reading textbooks, such as high school and college level chemistry and physiology books, when he was in junior high. His love for studying and anatomy seemed like a perfect fit for medical school. However, he didn't always agree.

"I was more interested in music," Telgenhoff said. "I never thought of it [medical school] until someone mentioned it to me."

After graduating from Cadillac High School, Telgenhoff went to Spring Arbor College. When he graduated from Spring Arbor, he went right back to work - pursuing his musical dreams.
"I had an offer in Alpena with former band members of the group FROST, " Telgenhoff said.

The band made some changes and Telgenhoff moved to Ann Arbor with the intention of going to grad school. He enrolled at Eastern Michigan University and earned a master's degree in physiology. "At the same time, I joined the band the WHIZ KIDS, Telgenhoff said. I played with them while in grad school and taught nursing students anatomy."

It was during grad school that a professor asked if Telgenhoff ever considered becoming a doctor.

"I applied for the hell of it. I didn't really want to be a doctor," he said. I was accepted at two places and I thought I would go for the interviews. Then I figured (since) I was accepted and passed the interviews, I'd better go."

Telgenhoff went to Michigan State University. During his first year, he still played with the WHIZ KIDS while studying. At the end of his first year, he played on a cruise ship in Detroit with the WHIZ KIDS.

Despite his musical pursuits, he studied hard enough to finish in the top 5 percentile of his medical school class.

"That (studying) is all I ever did," he said.
"I was in my room all the time studying. When I set my mind to it, I pretty much do it. Other kids were going skiing, but this comes harder for me. I think my hard work replaces some gifted people's meager efforts. Some people don't have to work at it."

Besides studying and playing music, Telgenhoff earned a few extra dollars by teaching classes. He taught three, including histology, the study of things under a microscope. He had become interested in histology when he was in junior high.

I made it through medical school in four years," Telgenhoff said. "I loved the book work and test-taking. I always did extremely well. When it came to taking care of people, I didn't like it. I never wanted to be a doctor. I didn't want to pick up bed pans, never liked the smell. I didn't want to hear them suffering. It wasn't for me."

"I thought to myself, 'I'm in a world where I don't belong.' I loved the study but I didn't want to take care of the people."

That is when he turned to pathology, where he could study diseases but not have to deal with


'I can't give up music. I'm a doctor, but I am also still a musician. I am like white trash with toys.'

Gary Telgenhoff

patients directly. He did an internship at Lansing's Ingham Medical Center and a four-year pathology residency at the Cleveland Clinic and Medical College of Ohio.

"After the residency in pathology at the Cleveland clinic, I had exposure to the forensic morgue in Cleveland. It was pretty gross, but it sure was interesting." he said. "I was so interested in it, I wanted to do that from there out."

Telgenhoff went to work for the Dayton, Ohio crime lab and received an additional year of fellowship training in forensic pathology.

'Certain cases do stick out," he said.
One of those cases involved a missing teen-ager who had not returned home for several days. Sometime later, a pizza shop noticed one of their ovens wasn't working very well and called in a repairman.

"The repairman stuck a broom stick into the chimney and runs into a huge resistance. The kid got stuck," Telgenhoff said. "I still eat pizza, but I think about it," he said.

But the cases really turned interesting when Telgenhoff moved to Las Vegas. Telgenhoff said the neon city has received an unfair reputation for having a lot of suicides.

"We actually have a normal suicide rate . . . people come here to commit suicide," he said. We get a falsely elevated number of suicides in the statistics. People come from other places to do it . . . they plan it out."

Telgenhoff said many people come to Las Vegas to jump off the Hoover Dam or some of the interesting high-rise buildings and casinos. One of those buildings, the Stratosphere, is heavily guarded, with gates blocking access to the building, he said. In addition, there are two sets of high chain-link fences at the top of the structure. However, one apparently disturbed but determined individual breached security.

"Someone finally did it," Telgenhoff said. But they forgot that the restaurant sticks out. He smashed on top of the roof first, then went the rest of the way.

"I wonder what a couple's anniversary dinner was like with that added feature," he added.

Telgenhoff also remembers a murder case that was quickly solved. Police went to a persons house to investigate a murder.

They found a body wrapped mummy-fashion in duct tape.
The body was unwrapped and ribbons and bows were found, indicating that the victim hadn't actually been murdered, but died from a bizarre autoerotic practice which went awry, Telgenhoff said.

What police couldn't figure out initially was how the person could wrap themselves in duct tape. While searching the house, they found three wooden dowels with empty duct tape rolls on them.

Cadillac native sees dark side of Vegas and limelight of Hollywood

"The guy had concocted this elaborate thing that went around his legs and arms (in duct tape)," Telgenhoff said. Since it was obvious that he had been doing this for quite some time, " . . . what they couldn't figure out was how he got the tape off." After further search they noticed the hinges on the bathroom door had been sharpened and there were all kinds of duct tape fragments on the hinges. "He didn't calculate very well and suffocated."

Telgenhoff recently had to testify in a murder trial about an autopsy he performed on a woman who was found in a garbage can. Prosecutors charged the woman's daughter with her murder.

The woman was missing for about two years before a neighbor started asking questions, Telgenhoff said. The woman was found with a plastic bag around her
mouth and nose.

"I had to sit on the stand and say that her cause of death was undetermined, although the weight of circumstantial evidence was suffocation. I could not scientifically prove the cause. That case was hard on my integrity and hard on my sense of duty. I did not make a lot of friends at the police station that day, " he said.



A life made for TV

If Telgenhoff's life sounds more like the subject of a television series, it is.

It was not unusual for Telgenhoff to give writers background information to use in their next crime novel but one day, he found a guy at the door who was writing a movie script.

"There was this guy, a regular guy with kind of a goofy side like mine. He was a jokester and I did not take him too seriously," Telgenhoff said. "But I would still take the time to show the guy around." The guy turned out to be Anthony Zuiker, the creator of the CBS show "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." I showed him what we do and he saw different cases and started to pick up the lingo, " Telgenhoff said. "He also spent time with the CSA's (Crime Scene Analysts)." For several months, Telgenhoff did not hear from Zuiker. Then he heard a knock on the back door at work.

"Here is this same guy with a nice package of a bottle of wine, a thank-you card and a video tape of the first episode of CSI," Telgenhoff said.

CBS bought the first 13 episodes for some- thing like $1 million. Zuiker continued to send Telgenhoff signed scripts, jackets and other para- phernalia from the set. Telgenhoff and Zuiker have stayed in contact and Zuiker has given Telgenhoff a standing invitation to visit the set for filming.

While Telgenhoff was making a name for him- self in the morgue, he could not get the music bug out of his system. "I can't give up music," Telgenhoff said. "I'm a doctor, but I am also still a musician. I am like white trash with toys." One of those toys is a recording studio in his home. Telgenhoff wrote a song about his profession, called "Speak For You." "I speak for people who can no longer speak for themselves," Telgenhoff said. "I sent it off to Anthony for yuks. He said he played it at work for the other writers, producers and co- executive producers and the office was rocking. He said they loved it. I was thinking, well, OK. Then he said they wanted to use it."

Telgenhoff's song has been aired at least 3 times. He has released the album "Speak For You" under the band name "SkinnerRat," which has 12 songs. "I have three more albums in the works. It is like my mission," he said. But if Telgenhoff's musical career takes off, don't expect to see him leave the morgue. "I could never give up dead people,"
he says.


As seen in the Saturday - Monday Cadillac News, February 16 - 18, 2002, with some minor corrections.

By Matt Seward
Managing Editor
Jeff Broddle



4A - MONDAY, February 11, 2002 - USA TODAY

Ad campaign targets notion of 'love drug'

Anti-Ecstasy Spot: This public service announcement shows a picture of Danielle Heird, a 21-year-old Las Vegas woman who died the third time she took Ecstacy, while a coroner reads her autopsy report.

Public service spots
attack the idea that
Ecstasy is harmless fun

By Donna Leinwand

A national advertising campaign
that debuts today will try to scrape the shiny, happy gloss from the Ecstasy drug craze.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America's first-ever focus on Ecstasy, as seen through a series of public service advertisements on TV and in newspapers, represents a watershed moment in the national response to the club drug. Experts say Ecstasy is taking root in youth culture an an aggressive, concerted campaign is needed to unsell the drug to a growing number of captivated youth.

The ads will confront the notions of Ecstasy as a harmless "love drug" whose benefits far outweigh the risks.

One ad targeted at parents portrays a grieving father, Jim Heird, whose daughter, Danielle, 21, of Las Vegas died the third time she used Ecstasy.

"I would've given anything for some warning signs. I would have moved. I would have locked her up. I don't care, Heird says in the commercial. "A parent's not supposed to survive their children. It's not the scheme of things."

In another ad, a coroner reads Danielle Heird's autopsy report while a photo collage of a happy, healthy Danielle crosses the screen.

One of a second set of commercials, which is aimed at teenagers, depicts a dance rave in which a girl on Ecstasy lies crumpled on the floor while her friends continue dancing around her. Another ad depicts a house party where kids high on Ecstasy make out and massage one another. When one boy becomes ill and crawls into a bathroom, a friend merely shuts the bathroom door. The tag lines at the end of each ad read, "Ecstasy: Where's the love?"

The drug, 3-4 methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, or MDMA, was initially used in psychotherapy.

It emerged as a recreational drug, on college campuses in the mid-1980s, says Glen Hanson, acting director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, MD. It spread through the rave party scene in the early 1990s.

"It's not just a little fad. It's a very disturbing trend," says Mitchell Rosenthal, president of the Phoenix House Foundation, the nation's largest drug-treatment provider.
In a new survey of teen drug use, the partnership found that teens view the drug as only slightly more dangerous than alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and inhalants. Drug experts worry Ecstasy will spread like cocaine did in the late 1970s and early 1980s, spawning a generation of addicts faster than health officials could issue warnings.

"By then, we were so deep in the well, it took a long time to climb back out," says Stephen Pasierb, president of the partnership. It wasn't until college basketball star Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose that teens began to see the scary side of cocaine use, Pasierb says.

Now, as with cocaine, teens seem unaware or unimpressed by the growing body of scientific evidence that Ecstasy is dangerous.

Scientists have studied extensively Ecstasy's effect on laboratory animals. Human clinical studies are underway, says George Ricaurte, an associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The animal studies indicate that using Ecstasy in doses equivalent to amounts usually taken by people can damage the brain's serotonin cells. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in appetite, sleep, mood regulation, memory and sexual function.

Ricaurte says the data in animals are "extraordinarily strong" that brain damage occurs. He says it is highly likely the same effects will be borne out in humans.





"One of the most insidious aspects of this particular drug is it could be damaging cells without any warning that the damage is taking place," Ricaurte says. "Any drug that has the wherewithal to damage a nerve cell in the brain has to be regarded with extreme care and caution. "Nerve cells in the brain don't grow back."

Questions remain about how high a dose causes damage and whether some people are more prone to damage than others. "I don't think there's any question that MDMA has the ability to damage certain brain cells," Hanson says. "It really boils down to a benefit-risk analysis. Are you willing to expose yourself to the possibility of brain damage or even death for recreation? All these things seem like a fairly high price to pay so you can have a good time on a Friday night."

Danielle Heird, a restaurant hostess at a Las Vegas casino who died July 20, 2000, may have been one of those people who is extremely sensitive to Ecstasy.

Gary Telgenhoff, the deputy medical examiner in Clark County, Nevada, who performed the autopsy on Heird, says she took a small amount.

At a club with friends, Heird took Ecstasy and complained of feeling ill and having trouble walking, her father says. Her friends took her to her boyfriend's apartment so she could lie down, he says.

"They went back out to continue partying," Jim Heird says.
She died before they came back.

As seen in
Monday, February 1, 2002

written by
Donna Leinwand


Telgenhoff showed up again on television on
the National Geographic Channel this last

He was part of a documentary team studying a Chinese Mummy from northern Nevada




Dr. T was asked by the family of Danielle Heard
to participate in a national add campaign exposing ECSTACY as a dangerous and potentially fatal drug.
The Public Service Spots were filmed in Las Vegas this last fall and are now airing nationally by

On the same topic, Dr. Telgenhoff appeared in an article in USA TODAY Monday, Feb 11, 2002. The article is available on this site.

The Rock and Roll Doctor also appeared on the 700 CLUB this last month with regard to Ecstacy.