Liam Scheff has passed away, after a long battle with extreme nerve damage (tinnitus)–described here, leaving his many fans, readers, followers, and friends bereft. He’d been mourning the loss of the love of his life, Helen, for many years, who died suddenly in 2010.
I had, like many, recent exchanges with Liam, in which death was openly discussed, and I was fairly good about refraining from imposing useless or banal advice on my suffering friend. Nothing makes people feel more lonely than the feeling that the person they are addressing can’t quite hear what they are saying. Including when they are saying they are ready to die, because living is too excruciatingly painful. (Not psychically–physically, in this case.)
Liam addressed that in his farewell letter, linked above, so I don’t have to run the risk of a ham-fisted or cloying effort to represent it.
If I were to be dead, I would want somebody to bring up my best work.
Liam was both one of the most penetrating, fearless, investigative reporters of our time and one of the funniest YouTube satirists of fake science (I’ll post some of these later.)
He broke a story that was bigger, darker, more devastating, I think, than anything any of us ever broke (proved) before or since, on HIV/AIDS. It came to be known as “Guinea Pig Kids.”
I am a little unclear on whether it was 2002 or 2003 that Christine Maggiore first connected me with Liam Scheff, but when she did, it was because she had found out about a story that Liam then went after like a Tomahawk Missile–emerging with smoking gun evidence that got parlayed into several articles, got picked up by other reporters, and even became a BBC documentary.
Christine deserves the credit for making initial contact with the story, and Liam did the absolutely unparalleled penetrative, undercover investigative reporting that blew it wide open, locally, (here in New York City, nationally, and internationally.
In memory of Liam Scheff, I invite you to tread his original story, “Orphans On Trial,” published in NY Press, here.
And “The House That AIDS Built,” here: http://www.altheal.org/toxicity/house.htm
[Note: This was NY Press under Jeff Koyen, a very brave editor.]
You can read about how all hell broke loose here, and read the letter that temporarily caused the BBC to expunge the film from its archives, after industry bullies threatened and threw tantrums.
The film below is painful to watch. I worked on it as a researcher when Liam fell out with the producer, Jamie Doran, and I know everything in the film is true, sourced, and accurate.
If you have time for nothing else, watch this 25 minute BBC documentary, based on the original reporting by Liam Scheff.
You will find hard to believe, but it’s all true. And it all happened because of two remarkable people: Christine Maggiore, and Liam Scheff. May they both rest in peace, and hey guys–don’t squabble.
Send word. We miss you.