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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Natasha Vanwasshenova: The Perils of Prostitution

     Have you heard the one about the hooker, the trick with a bad ticker, and the bungled autopsy? Probably not, because what happened to a prostitute named Natasha Vanwasshenova and her client Jonathan Hood is not that funny.

     On November 23, 2010, Jonathan Hood, a resident of Rochester, Michigan, called a Dearborn escort service and requested a hooker and $80 worth of heroin. The 38-year-old John, in the midst of a divorce, was under the influence of alcohol and heroin when 28-year-old Natasha Vanwasshenova arrived at Hood's suburban Detroit home with the requested drug.

     After consuming more heroin and booze, Mr. Hood and the prostitute soaked in his hot tub for 30 minutes after which he took a cold shower. While having sex with Vanwasshenova shortly thereafter, Mr. Hood died. She called 911, tried to revive him, and waited for the EMS personnel and the police.

     The forensic pathologist with the Oakland County Medical Examiner's office who performed the autopsy ruled that Jonathan Hood had died of an heroin overdose. The forensic pathologist noted that Mr. Hood had an enlarged heart and significant blockage in one of his arteries.

     Since, according to this forensic pathologist, Vanwasshenova's heroin had killed Mr. Hood, a local prosecutor charged her with delivering a drug that caused the user's death. Arrested on this criminal homicide offense, Vanwasshenova, if found guilty, faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.

     Sitting in her Oakland County jail cell, Vanwasshenova must have wondered how having sex with a 38-year-old man had killed him, and why she was being held responsible for his death. Heroin, while not good for you, is not arsenic. Had she known the authorities would charge her for causing this trick's demise, she might not have stuck around for the police.

     Vanwasshenova's court appointed attorney, Charles Toby, when he read the autopsy report, wondered why the forensic pathologist hadn't taken Mr. Hood's enlarged heart and blocked artery into consideration in his cause of death ruling. With that in mind, attorney Toby asked Dr. Kirit Patel, the Chief Cardiologist at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, to review the autopsy. Dr. Patel, after reading the police and autopsy reports, concluded that Jonathan Hood had died of "acute coronary thrombosis," not a heroin overdose. His weak heart had failed under the stress of the drug, booze, hot tub, cold shower, and sex.

     In light of Dr. Kirit's post-mortem analysis, the local prosecutor reduced the charge against Vanwasshenova to delivering a controlled substance. Oakland County medical examiner, Dr. Ljubisa Dragovic, amended Mr. Hood's cause of death to heart attack.

     In May 2012, after spending 14 months in the county jail, Vanwasshenova pleaded guilty to the drug delivery charge. She also apologized to Mr. Hood's relatives who were in the courtroom. Judge Leo Bowan sentenced her to two years probation and ordered her released from custody.

     Attorney Charles Toby, noting that his client had been in jail for 14 months on a minor drug crime, objected to the probated sentence. If Vanwasshenova returned to prostitution, she would violate the terms of her probation, and if caught, could end up serving the rest of her drug delivery sentence behind bars. Perhaps her experience with Mr. Hood would point Vanwasshenova, the mother of four, in another direction, career-wise.



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