KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Dr. Randall Pedigo, the former Knox County medical examiner who drugged a handful of young male acquaintances and secretly took nude photos of them as they slumbered, was found dead Friday afternoon at his Holston Hills home.
Knoxville Police Department spokesman Scott Erland said authorities were summoned about 1:15 p.m. Friday to the Pedigo home in the 5000 block of Holston Drive. Pedigo's body was in an upstairs bedroom.
"Violent Crimes Unit investigators and the medical examiner responded to the scene. The death is believed to be natural at this time pending autopsy results," according to Erland.
He was 69.
In June 1994, TBI agents and KPD officers went to Pedigo's then home at Cherokee Bluff condos in South Knoxville to confront him after a 16-year-old boy reported he thought he'd been drugged by Pedigo while visiting the doctor.
The teen was interested in a potential medical career. He told investigators he'd been a guest in the doctor's home the day before.
He was supposed to go on medical rounds with Pedigo, a surgeon. He said Pedigo told him he was giving the boy a Hepatitis B shot to ward against exposure to infections.
Instead, Pedigo gave him something that put him to sleep.
The teen told police he awoke at some point in the night to see what he thought was a nude Pedigo hovering by him.
Pedigo stalled for time when the police arrived the afternoon of June 22, 1994. They wanted to take him in for questioning.
He asked to change clothes and then tried to thwart authorities. He ran down to a lower level of his condo.
Pedigo, a firearms instructor and gun collector, found a pistol. TBI Agent Steve Richardson followed him into the room, warned the armed doctor and then fired shots with his own handgun.
Richardson's bullets hit Pedigo in an eye and wrist. Altogether he was hit five times.
A KPD officer later testified that Pedigo begged after being hit, "Go ahead and finish me off."
He was treated at University of Tennessee Medical Center -- just down the hillside where he worked -- and eventually recovered, although he lost the use of his eye.
Authorities during a search found nude Polaroids of the teen as well as several other young men in a cabinet in the home.
An investigation revealed Pedigo had befriended the young men through various avenues -- some via the hospital, some who were the sons of friends, and others who were new acquaintances. One was a University of Tennessee student.
His method, it turned out, was typically the same. He invited his victims over to his condo up at Cherokee Bluff and ended up giving them shots that made them go to sleep. Until the 16-year-old spoke up, none had known what happened.
The incident wrecked Pedigo's career.
While he at first denied the charges, the doctor, who was well-known in the Knox County law enforcement community, pleaded guilty in 1995 to sexual battery and drug charges. He served a brief jail sentenced.
Some of the young men sued Pedigo for damages.
He lived quietly after that at his family home in Holston Hills.
Nicholas Bishop, Pedigo's nephew, said in an email Monday that Pedigo shouldn't be judged by what happened in the past. Pedigo, he said, was a top surgeon who saved many lives.
According to Bishop: "To anyone who truly knew Randy or even had a conversation with him they were soon to quickly realize that they were talking to "the smartest guy in the room". He was a true friend to anyone that was privileged enough to have known him and it was an honor to be included in his social circle. He was a wonderful person that will be greatly missed. To all who knew him, understood that he loved three things in his life: his friends, family, and cigars!"
Pedigo's body is being donated for medical study and research.