Doctor Murdered Over Opioid Prescription

By Victoria Kim 08/01/17

The doctor was shot in a hospital parking lot by the enraged spouse of a chronic pain patient.

Dr. Todd Graham
Dr. Todd Graham Photo via YouTube

Authorities are investigating the murder of a doctor in northern Indiana, who was shot to death for not prescribing opioid medication.

It’s yet unknown which specific medication the patient, Petra Jarvis, was seeking at her appointment last Wednesday (July 26), but Dr. Todd Graham’s refusal to write a prescription for her chronic pain was apparently enough for her husband, Michael Jarvis, to seek revenge. 

Two hours after his wife’s appointment, Jarvis went looking for Dr. Graham and shot him twice in the parking lot of St. Joseph Rehabilitation Institute, a clinic in Mishawaka.

“He did what we ask our doctors to do. Don’t overprescribe opioids,” said St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter at a press conference. “Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Jarvis made that choice to take his life.”

After killing the doctor, the disgruntled husband then drove to his friend’s home about three miles away, reported the South Bend Tribune. But when Jarvis “gave them indication that he was not going to be around,” his friend, concerned, called the police. 

By the time the authorities arrived, however, Jarvis had shot and killed himself outside the home. Authorities are puzzled by the murder-suicide and how opioids factor into the tragedy.

“Make no mistake, this is a person who made a choice to kill Dr. Graham,” said Cotter. “This is not a fallout from the opioid epidemic or any opioid problems. That probably leads us into an examination of what is happening with the opioid problem in our community, and frankly, our whole nation.”

Cotter says investigators are looking at the couple’s medication history and Jarvis’s mental state prior to his death, since clearly he “may have also had his own issues.” 

“We’re talking about a man who made a choice to kill another person,” said Cotter. 

They have yet to determine if opioid addiction had anything to do with it. “Was that a contributing factor in his decision? We don’t know that yet,” said the prosecutor.

A memorial service for Dr. Graham, who was 56, was held at St. Pius X Catholic Church in nearby Granger on Monday.

“Every homicide is tragic, but this one in particular, I think, hits home to everyone,” said Cotter. “[A doctor’s] job is to try to help people, and that [was] certainly what Dr. Graham was doing.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr