The Circumstances of the Death of James Patrick Keith (September 7, 1999)

This report is primarily from the RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL 9/28/99, with additional insight provided by people close to Jim at the time of his death and updated as any new information becomes known.

Jim Keith died Tuesday September 7th, 1999, while undergoing surgery at Washoe County Medical Center in Reno, Nevada. According to the Coroner's report, Keith suffered a fatal blood clot while surgeons attempted to repair a broken leg. The explanation doesn't sit well with friends and colleagues, as mystery and intrigue surround the circumstances of his demise.

Keith obtained his injury at the Burning Man Festival, an eccentric art festival held annually in the northern Nevada Black Rock Desert. His leg was broken when he fell from a stage, just three feet above ground. The hospital reports that related kidney problems developed soon after, and prevented immediate surgery. Three days later, when that surgery finally came, Keith died.

George Pickard, a close friend of Keith, recalls: "I went to visit Jim in the hospital that Tuesday night. I had spoken with Jim the night before and I remembered which room he was in, but when I checked in at the nurses desk on that floor, the third floor, I was told that Jim was in room 106, on the first floor. When I checked that room, 106, I found an elderly lady with a completely different name."

Pickard then says that he asked another nurse where he could visit his friend. "After checking the computer, the nurse made a number of phone calls to different people within the hospital. After what seemed like an eternity, she handed me a piece of paper with a phone number on it, and said that she 'couldn't disclose any information regarding the patient' and that I would have to contact the 'family spokesperson."

"At that point I was overcome with dread." Pickard says, "I asked the nurse 'He's not dead is he?' and there was no response. I said to her, 'Tell me he's not dead.'"

Pickards fears were soon validated. After frantic phone calls to friends, Pickard received confirmation from a Keith family member.

"I didn't believe it. My best friend was gone. He broke his leg and now he's dead. It didn't make any sense." said Pickard.

"He [Jim] told me, in one of our last discussions, that he didn't want to be put under, that he couldn't handle the anesthesia. He said that if he went under, he didn't think he would wake back up. He was going to leave the hospital and go home with his broken leg if they were going to put him under." Pickard says "The last time I spoke with him, he told me that they had arranged to use a local, an epidermal."

Keith's nephew, Chris Davis, concurs that his uncle insisted on not being administered anesthesia. It remains unexplained why Keith was given anesthesia.

Jim Keith had become a noted authority on conspiracy theory, publishing numerous popular books in the field and appearing often on radio and television programs to discuss his investigations.

Jerry Smith, a lifelong friend of Jim Keith and fellow conspiracy author, tells that Jim had a rule-- Keith's Law --which states "all conspiracy authors must die in mysterious circumstances."

Jim Keith was 49 years old. He is survived by two daughters.