Michael Swango, the favorite son of a doting mother and an often absent, alcoholic, military father, showed great promise at an early age. He excelled in schoolwork, in music, and in athletics. However, from his early days in medical school, it was obvious to some of Swango's classmates that something was wrong. His work was sloppy. Among other things, he mangled his cadaver, and he failed to recognize an X-ray of the heart. At the same time, he regularly commuted 100 miles to work as an emergency medical technician, which was against school regulations.