Bevilacqua cause of death to be released Thursday

Posted: March 08, 2012

The Montgomery County coroner plans to release findings Thursday from his examination into the death of Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, his office said.

Coroner Walter I. Hofman had deferred declaring a cause of death for the 88-year-old prelate until he reviewed the toxicology results.

Bevilacqua died Jan. 31 at his residence at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, where he retired in 2003 after 15 years as the leader of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Church officials had said that Bevilacqua had been in failing heath, suffering from cancer and dementia.

Hofman has said he saw no obvious signs of trauma or foul play during an initial exam. But he deferred his ruling and ordered the toxicology tests at the request of Risa Vetri Ferman, the district attorney.

Ferman said she asked for the exam because she found it "peculiar" that Bevilacqua died a day after a judge said he was competent to testify in the forthcoming conspiracy and child-sex abuse trial of three archdiocesan priests.

Hofman had previously said he would notify prosecutors if his review turned up anything suspicious.

First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele said Wednesday afternoon that his office had not been contacted by the coroner.

Contact John P. Martin at 215-854-4774 or, or follow him on Twitter @JPMartinInky.

Inquirer staff writer Jeremy Roebuck contributed to this article.

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