Dr. Thomas Paschal was found dead Tuesday night at his home at 715 W. Third Ave. in Albany. Police are listing the death, which may have come from a gunshot wound, as suspicious. (Staff photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — Dr. Thomas “Tom” Paschal was found dead in his Third Avenue residence Tuesday night in what Albany police were investigating Wednesday as a “suspicious death.” Authorities said he may have died from a gunshot wound.
Officials with the Albany Police Department said Wednesday that they received an anonymous 911 call at 7:25 p.m. Tuesday asking authorities to go to Paschal’s home at 715 W. Third Ave. for a welfare check. Paschal has been physically disabled since the late 1980s, when prosecutors accused his then-wife of placing a debilitating drug into his home intravenous device.
When officers reached the residence Tuesday night, they found it well secured and required assistance from the Albany Fire Department to gain entrance, APD officials said.
Confirming early Wednesday afternoon that the deceased person was Paschal, Albany police spokeswoman Phyllis Banks said no arrests had been made and that the investigation was not considered to be a homicide.
“It is still a suspicious death,” Banks said. “It has not been labeled a homicide.”
Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler said Paschal’s body was to be sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab in Macon for an autopsy.
Sources said Wednesday that four people had been detained on unrelated charges. Banks said some individuals who were known to have had contact with Paschal were being held on other charges such as probation violation, but emphasized that nothing related to the physician’s death had been filed against them.
Paschal and his then-wife, Karen, were at the center of a high-profile Dougherty County court case in 1988 after Karen Paschal was accused of trying to kill him. Prosecutors at the time contended that Karen Paschal, a registered nurse, was suspected of introducing Pavulon, a powerful anesthetic used to relax patients’ muscles for surgery, into Thomas Paschal’s home intravenous apparatus that he was using to replace fluids lost to illness, and then again at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital after the physician developed disturbing physical symptoms.
According to doctors’ statements of the time, the “unusual” symptoms were similar to what a person would experience while coming out of surgical anesthesia. The presence of Pavulon was confirmed when a sample of Paschal’s urine was tested by a New York lab, authorities said at the time.
The drug, which had not been prescribed for Thomas Paschal, also often has been used in a three-drug cocktail for state-ordered lethal injection executions.
Karen Paschal, who prosecutors said wanted to collect a $1.3 million life insurance policy, was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with attempt to murder, and later pleaded nolo contendere to the charges. She was sentenced in November 1988 by Judge H.W. Lott of Lenox to concurrent 20-year probation terms on the two counts.