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Autopsy results pending on plastic surgeon, girlfriend

Published August 29, 2012 7:19 am

Orem • "I don't think the autopsy's going to tell us anything," says officer.
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Autopsies were conducted Tuesday on the bodies of a plastic surgeon and his fiancée, who were found dead in an Orem home Monday. But investigators doubt they will learn much about the mysterious deaths of the troubled couple.

Orem Police Sgt. Craig Martinez said Tuesday that he didn't expect any definitive answers about the deaths of Joseph Berg and Luz "Lucy" Schwartz until toxicology screens are completed. And those results are not expected for two to three weeks, Martinez said.

"I don't think the autopsy's going to tell us anything," he said.

Martinez said there were no signs of visible trauma to the bodies of Schwartz, 49, and Berg, 47, who were last seen Sunday night at dinner in Orem with a member of Berg's family. Berg did not own the Orem house where he and Schwartz were found, but Martinez said they were there with the homeowner's permission.

"He wasn't trespassing or breaking any laws," he said.

Berg had been released Thursday from jail, where he spent four months after pleading guilty to a second-degree felony kidnapping charge for an assault involving Schwartz in November 2011. He was sentenced in April to 180 days in jail followed by 36 months of probation, including anger management and substance abuse treatment. He was released early for good behavior, according to jail staff.

At his sentencing, he admitted an addiction to painkillers.

On Nov. 30, 2011, state licensing officials suspended Berg's licenses to practice and prescribe. Staffers at his clinic, the Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Institute of Orem, had complained of Berg's strange behavior that included falling asleep while standing up, swallowing handfuls of pills and buying drugs not used in his practice.

He subsequently surrendered his license to practice.

Speaking with reporters in Berg's neighborhood on Monday, Utah County prosecutor Craig Johnson said Schwartz did not want to press kidnapping or assault charges against Berg last year. Her unwillingness to cooperate with prosecutors and Berg's status as a first-time offender prompted the Utah County Attorney's Office to seek a six-month jail sentence and probation.

"It was a victory at the time," Johnson said. "Obviously something went horribly wrong here."

Given Berg's history of drug use, police will be looking for signs of an overdose based on the toxicology tests. But the tests won't reveal other details, such whether the deaths were accidental or intentional, Martinez said. He said he didn't know of any evidence that Schwartz also abused drugs.

"I don't know if we will ever know exactly what happened," Martinez said.


Twitter: @kimballbennion






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