Family has man's body exhumed

Thursday, June 19th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) _ Coroners have run tests on the remains of a Muskogee man whose body was exhumed to determine his cause of death.

According to his death certificate, Michael Anthony Conard, 41, died Oct. 21, 2001, of ``cardiopulmonary arrest due to possible cardiac arrhythmia and hypertension.''

No autopsy was performed, court documents state.

Conard's family became suspicious about his death because he hadn't been sick and they were concerned about his widow's behavior, relatives said.

Stacy Conard Billings began living with another man shortly after her husband died, said First Assistant District Attorney David Pierce.

Billings, 38, couldn't be reached for comment.

Conard's body taken to the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner's Office in Tulsa for an autopsy and returned to the cemetery later in the day for reburial.

According to court documents, Conard may have been poisoned with digoxin, a white crystalline form of digitalis that is poisonous and is derived from the leaves of the foxglove, a flower.

``Maybe this will ease some feelings in the family,'' said Lt. Faye Banks, a Muskogee Police Department investigator. ``That's all I'm hoping for.''

Victor London, Conard's brother said relatives hope he died of natural causes.

``If it doesn't, then it'll be trouble for everybody. We just want to find out how he died and why he died,'' London said.

Billings wasn't present for the exhumation, but sent a letter stating she had no objection to it.

The autopsy can determine whether Conard had heart disease or whether there is the presence of digoxin in his tissue.