FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTIC) — An administrative worker at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has been placed on a paid leave pending an investigation of a Dec. 16 incident in which she allowed her husband, who is not an authorized employee of the office, to view the body of mass killer Adam Lanza two days after the Newtown school massacre.
Sources said that Jean Henry, a processing technician at the Farmington facility, and her husband entered the refrigerated room in which bodies are kept pending autopsies on the morning of the day when the post-mortem would later be performed on Lanza.
They went to the gurney where Lanza lay, then Henry unzipped the bag so her husband could look at him for a moment, and she closed the bag and they left the room, sources familiar with situation told The Courant Wednesday.
Lanza shot 20 first-graders and six adult staff members to death on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, then shot himself in the head as police arrived. Earlier, he had killed his mother at their Newtown home.
Henry and her husband, who doesn’t work for the state, openly went in and out of the refrigerated area, and a superior of Henry’s was aware of what was happening, one of the sources said.
However, after H. Wayne Carver II, the chief state medical examiner, learned of the matter, he placed her on the leave about four days later, the sources said. An internal complaint was filed, they said.
Henry’s leave was still in effect Wednesday and was imposed to allow for an administrative investigation of the circumstances surrounding Henry’s bringing her husband into the facility to see Lanza’s body.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Henry had no comment.
She was instructed in a letter from Carver to stay out of contact with work but to be available to answer questions from state labor relations personnel conducting the inquiry, a source said.
Paid leaves are commonly imposed on employees who are under investigation for alleged actions that could result in discipline.
Carver also declined any comment on Wednesday.
Access to the medical examiner’s office is strictly controlled. The public cannot go in without first signing in at the front office and being escorted into the building by an employee, and even that access is limited to the administrative offices in the front of the building. All authorized personnel have key cards to enter the building.
The only people allowed into the rear area, where bodies are stored and where autopsies are performed, are the authorized staff of the office and law enforcement personnel attending autopsies as part of their investigations.
Lawsuit Pending Over Reassignment
Henry has worked at the medical examiner’s office since early 2011, when she was moved there after having worked for 14 years in the governor’s budget office — called the Office of Policy and Management — during the administrations of two Republican chief executives, John G. Rowland and M. Jodi Rell.
She has a lawsuit pending in federal court against Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Malloy’s chief legal counsel, former Democratic state Sen. Andrew McDonald, who is now Malloy’s nominee to the state Supreme Court.
Henry¸ whose current job pays $55,910 a year, was serving as OPM’s legislative program manager, which pays more than $100,000 a year, when Malloy took office in January 2011. She was told that her division was being restructured and that she would not be part of it. Henry was a member of the state’s “classified” work force and thus had protection from losing her job because of political patronage considerations.
The lawsuit claims that she lost her higher-paying OPM position not because of a legitimate reorganization, but because of political retaliation related to her being a Republican hired when Rowland was governor. The suit says that Henry tried several times to discuss with Benjamin Barnes, the new secretary of OPM, why her job was being eliminated but was rebuffed. The lawsuit also claims that she was fired because of a previous run-in with McDonald over a 2007 legislative bill.