Steven Pitt, DO
In Memoriam

High-profile DO forensic psychiatrist shot dead outside office

Steven Pitt, DO, was well-known for his work on the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation, Ben Roethlisberger’s civil lawsuit and other notable cases.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with new information on June 6, 2018.

Update: The suspected murderer of forensic psychiatrist Steven Pitt, DO, fatally shot himself on Monday morning as police closed in on his hotel room, multiple news outlets have reported. It appears that the suspect, Dwight Lamon Jones, targeted individuals connected to his contentious divorce and the custody battle over his son. Dr. Pitt conducted a court-ordered mental health evaluation on Jones during the custody dispute in 2009, azcentral.com reports.

Police say after shooting Dr. Pitt, Jones killed two paralegals who worked in the law firm that represented his ex-wife during the divorce, then shot a psychologist in what may have been a case of mistaken identity. Jones is also the suspect for the shooting deaths of an elderly couple found in their Fountain Hills, Arizona, home on Monday morning. The couple’s link to Jones or the divorce case is unknown. Jones’ ex-wife and son are unharmed.

To learn more, read the full story on azcentral.com. Memorial remembrances of Dr. Pitt are available at fox10phoenix.com and azcentral.com, which noted that Dr. Pitt is survived by two grown sons, Asa and Beau.

Original post from June 4:

Forensic psychiatrist Steven Pitt, DO, 59, was shot and killed outside his Scottsdale, Arizona, office Thursday afternoon, according to multiple news reports citing the Phoenix Police Department. Witnesses reported hearing a loud argument before gunshots commenced.

The day after Dr. Pitt’s death, two Scottsdale paralegals were shot and killed in their workplace, and a Scottsdale psychologist was found shot dead in his office.

On Saturday, the Scottsdale Police Department released a statement that they had concluded that the murder of the paralegals was connected to Dr. Pitt’s death, suggesting that the three, and possibly the felled psychologist, were targeted for their profession, work they had done on a specific case or involvement with a specific individual.

The suspect in the shootings remains at large; police have released a sketch of an individual wanted for questioning related to the shootings.

Dr. Pitt had a highly successful career in forensic investigation. He assisted on several high-profile criminal cases, including the JonBenet Ramsey homicide, the 1999 Columbine high school massacre and Ben Roethlisberger’s civil lawsuit. He frequently appeared as a forensic psychiatric expert on top-tier media outlets including Dateline NBC, CNN and The History Channel.

In a 2016 interview with The DO, Dr. Pitt credited his success with his ability to deconstruct human behavior, which allowed him to better understand a defendant’s actions and thought processes.

“I learned about behavior by visiting crime scenes with detectives and seeing how they analyze the evidence,” Dr. Pitt said. “I’m able to recognize how they put pieces together, which has allowed me to better understand human behavior.”

Noting the dark nature of his work, Dr. Pitt stressed that he prioritized decompressing during his off hours.

“You have to build in real balance,” he said. “For me, that means being in touch with nature and wildlife by spending time in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia or hiking in the Sonoran desert.”

Dr. Pitt was also extremely proud of his DO heritage. In 2016, he ranked being the commencement speaker for the class of 2003 at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in East Lansing, his alma mater, as one of the more memorable experiences of his career.

“It was a really extraordinary experience and something that I always wanted to do,” Dr. Pitt said. “I look at the whole person by virtue of my osteopathic training, so I was deeply honored to have that opportunity.”

Further reading:

Deconstructing behavior: Forensic psychiatrist works on high-profile cases

6 comments

  1. Devastated by the death of Steven Pitt, DO. I rotated with him during 1986 in Urology. He was committed to psychiatry then because he wanted to”get into the human mind”. He had an infectious sense of humor and was so down to earth. Being a psychiatrist, I wish that this was the only friend I lost I this manner. This is a dangerous field nd we can never be complacent or too trusting. Steve, thanks for being you. My sincerest sympathies to his sons and family.

    1. Mikki – I wondered where you ended up after med school. Just sorry I had to find out this way… Ann McCombs, DO

  2. I did not know Dr Pitt personally but as a fellow DO and alumnus of MSU-COM this has hit hard. I have reached out to one of his sons via Facebook messenger and will plan on making him (and his brother) a comforting hoodie…. I cannot imagine their pain.

  3. So sad to hear about Dr. Pitt’s death and how he died. I too went Michigan St for my psychiatry residency. Though I didn’t know him it sounds as though he was a very dedicated professional and kind man. My sincere sympathies to his family and friends.

  4. Dr. Pitt and other innocents were the target of misdirected anger and became unwittingly the shields of the family members they had worked hard and successfully to protect. As an osteopathic physician practicing emergency medicine for 35 years I have been threatened with violence while restraining and dispositioning patients against their will in order to protect others. We do this knowing that none of those threats are merely false bravado but pose real danger in search of opportunity. God bless all those who pay the price for protecting the rest of us.

  5. I was in the same residency class with Steve Pitt at U Michigan. He was a friendly, genial guy who obviously pursued a career dedicated to forensic psychiatry with substantial achievement. I was horrified and saddened to hear of his death and how he died. Steve (and his colleagues) were yet more of innumerable victims of gun violence in America.

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