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Kevorkian’s attorney says woman took her own life

March 26, 1997

WARREN, Mich. (AP) _ A woman whose body was found in a motel room was suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease and took her own life, Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s lawyer said.

Attorney Geoffrey Fieger refused to say whether the assisted-suicide advocate was involved.

Fieger identified the woman found Monday as Janette Knowles, 75, of Norfolk, Neb., and said she had been suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Near her body was a typewritten note listing personal information along with a handwritten message to contact Fieger.

``She ended her own suffering herself,″ Fieger told the Detroit Free Press in a report published today.

The cause of death was not available, pending the results of toxicology tests.

Mrs. Knowles’ daughter, Bev Ferguson of Norfolk, Neb., said she could not comment specifically about how her mother died.

``This was her dying wish,″ she told the Norfolk Daily News Tuesday. ``She was allowed to choose the way she went and her family has to respect her final wish.″

Ms. Ferguson said her mother, a retired librarian and music teacher, lived in a nursing home, where she was fed through a tube and was losing her ability to communicate.

``This is the most demeaning, miserable disease I’ve ever seen and I’m a registered nurse,″ her daughter said. ``My mother was a vivacious, outgoing woman. She always knew what she wanted and she didn’t want to end up in a nursing home.″

Fieger also represented a Pennsylvania man found dead last week in a Livonia motel and a Virginia woman found dead March 6 in a Romulus motel. In both cases, Fieger would not say whether Kevorkian was involved.

Kevorkian, 67, a retired pathologist and outspoken advocate of physician-assisted suicide, has acknowledged being present at 45 suicides since 1990. His actions have drawn him three criminal trials and three acquittals.

His fourth trial is scheduled to begin June 10.

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