New Philadelphia Medical Examiner addresses challenges facing her office

Dr. Constance DiAngelo was selected by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to lead the Medical Examiner's Office, a role that presents many challenges amid a troubling homicide rate and recent controversy surrounding a decades-old scandal. 

DiAngelo, a board-certified anatomic, clinical and forensic pathologist, comes highly qualified for her new appointment with over 20 years in determining causes and manners of death. She earned a bachelors degree from George Washington University, a Master of Science in Biology from Virginia Tech, and a Doctor of Medicine from the Medicine College of Wisconsin. 

A statement from the Department of Health noted that DiAngelo completed a one-year Forensic Pathology fellowship in Philadelphia alongside Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mirchandani and Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Hood. 

As Philadelphia's new medical examiner, DiAngelo will lead the office responsible for discovering the cause of death in homicides, overdoses, and sudden death. With more than 430 murders in Philadelphia this year, and a historic 562 killings last year, DiAngelo has her work cut out for her. 


She stumped for more technicians and doctors to help determine the cause of death and testify in court. DiAngelo claims Mayor Jim Kenney supports a $2M jump in her $6M budget. 

As the new leader, DiAngelo will also be tasked with managing the recent controversy surrounding the handling of the remains to the MOVE Bombing victims. 

Philadelphia health commissioner Thomas Farley resigned in May 2021 last year after officials said partial remains from the bombing had been cremated in 2017. The city later said, however, that the remains had not been destroyed and had been found at the medical examiner's office.

MOVE members, led by founder John Africa, practiced a lifestyle that shunned modern conveniences, preached equal rights for animals and rejected government authority. They took the last name Africa.

The group clashed with police and neighbors, and police seeking to oust members used a helicopter to drop a bomb on the house on May 13, 1985. Five children and six adults inside died, and the resulting fire destroyed more than 60 row houses.

12-year-old Zanetta Dotson and her 14-year-old sister Katricia were living in the Osage Avenue MOVE compound. The girls were among the 5 children and 6 adults who perished in the massive fire. Last year, it was revealed the University of Pennsylvania and the city had the remains for years.

The city turned over the remains to loved ones in August and the Medical Examiner's Office issued an apology. DiAngelo says they're still working to return remains to victim's families. 

"I hope the controversy is over we’re still in the process of returning the remains with the families – that’s ongoing," DiAngelo said. 

DiAngelo admitted that she can not make the city safer, but she is able to offer answers and closure to the families of those lost.

"I don’t have an answer to the opioid problem, I don’t have an answer to the gun violence problem," DiAngelo said. "We see it, we document it."