TAMPA, Fla. - The medical examiner completed the autopsy of Terri Schiavo yesterday, clearing the way for the release of the body to her husband, who plans to cremate her remains and bury the ashes without telling his in-laws when or where.
Results of the autopsy may not be released for several weeks, the medical examiner's office said. Husband Michael Schiavo hopes the autopsy will settle questions about her medical condition, but experts differ on whether that will happen.
Michael Schiavo and his in-laws spent yesterday planning separate funerals for the 41-year-old woman, who died Thursday - 13 days after her feeding tube was removed.
Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have scheduled a funeral Mass for Tuesday in nearby Gulfport. The Mass will be preceded by a gathering for people to express their condolences.
Michael Schiavo declined to comment on the autopsy. The body is now ready for release to an unidentified mortuary designated by her husband.
Terri Schiavo had been the center of a long legal battle over whether she would have wanted to be kept alive with the feeding tube for 15 years after suffering a devastating brain injury.
David Gibbs, the Schindlers' attorney, said there have been no further discussions between Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers about their daughter's remains. The Schindlers do not plan to press the issue in court, he said.
"The court has already determined that [Michael Schiavo] will control the burial decisions," Gibbs said.
Outside the Pinellas Park hospice where Terri Schiavo lived for five years, just a few protesters returned yesterday for a brief Mass as city workers took down barricades used to control the crowd. News crews from across the country packed up their gear.