William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Tuesday, 5, May, 2009

Seminars in Forensic Anatomy–Guest Blogging #1

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 21:04

For my seminar class this semester, I had my students look at several famous cases, choose one that interested them, and then prepare a presentation to the class (and the department as a whole) applying their forensic knowledge.  They’ve been doing this for the past year, now it is time for the rubber to meet the road.  I had them make a precis of approximately 500 words–which is also harder than it looks.  Learning what important to leave in, and what to leave out is a skill that also needs some practice.  I’m going to put their work on this blog, as product means nothing if people don’t read it.  I appreciate comments; but I warn you all that I will be moderating them pretty strictly.  Comments that are on topic and contribute to knowledge are welcome.  I will not put up with people being nasty to folks whose grade depends on their posting, that isn’t fair to them.

Without further ado, below the fold is Tinos’ contribution about Theodore Bundy.

Hailing as one of the most notorious serial murders of the later part of the 20th century, Ted Bundy remains as a well studied case amongst behavioral analysts and law enforcement officials alike.  A reign of terror spanning over four states and countless jurisdictions, Bundy was integral in the definition of the modern ‘serial’ murderer, as stated by R. Keppel.  As with the majority of sadistic rapists, power and domination were cornerstones of his assaults/murders, and this was evident from his brutal bludgeoning/decapitation of women in the late 1970’s.  Hypothesized to be triggered by an unstable past and fueled by a failed relationship with his first ‘love’, Ted Bundy’s perspective on women quickly became an objectified one, treating  females and others as ‘possessions’ or ‘objects’, a trend that permeates most sexual crime.   Bundy’s relevance remains strong amongst law enforcement officials, for his elusive methods in evading the police (and subsequent escape from prison) were based upon a fundamental understanding of our legal system.

Stashing bodies in various places, namely the Taylor mountains of Washington State, Bundy’s choice of desolate areas made it very difficult to recover remains before severe decomposition set in, and the ‘randomness’ of the spread of individual parts made post-mortem identification of these women quite a daunting task.  Yet, a less calculated, sloppier rampage on the campus of the Florida State University served as the turning point for his subsequent capture, and execution.

As a coveted member of the FBI’s most wanted list, Bundy’s riot on the FSU Chi Omega sorority house left a trail of UNIQUE identifiable evidence on the bodies of Lisa Levy & Margaret Bowman.  Bite marks on buttocks and breasts of these women were matched  to a wax composite taken from Bundy days before his trial in 1979.  Jagged front incisors and offset lateral incisors left a ‘one of a kind’ pattern on his victims, and with the help of expert witness Dr.  Lowell Levine (chief consultant for forensic dentistry to the NYC medical examiner at the time), Bundy was convicted of murder and subsequently executed in 1989 after a long, tortuous appeal process.  This dental evidence from the sorority house was also corroborated by dental impressions left on the then mummified body of 12 yr old Kimberly Leach found in Suwanee River State Park.  Charismatic, well-spoken, handsome, resourceful, and with a fundamental knowledge of the law, Ted Bundy possessed  the requisite characteristics remain undetected, making his murderous rampage one of the most prolific of our time.



  1. interesting read – thanks Tino.

    Comment by JIGSAW — Tuesday, 5, May, 2009 @ 21:52 | Reply

  2. My comments:
    Bundy’s relevance remains strong amongst law enforcement officials, for his elusive methods in evading the police (and subsequent escape from prison) were based upon a fundamental understanding of our legal system.

    Not relevant to the forensic study-

    As a coveted member of the FBI’s most wanted list, Bundy’s riot on the FSU Chi Omega…

    Wording could be revised to more clearly express the thought.

    Last sentence also contributes nothing to the forensic study.

    Comment by Old NFO — Tuesday, 5, May, 2009 @ 22:58 | Reply

  3. William,
    Before commenting on the piece, I’d like to know the purpose behind writing it.
    What is it’s intended role?

    Comment by Carteach0 — Wednesday, 6, May, 2009 @ 05:25 | Reply

    • Carteach-

      My inspiration, if I may dignify it with such a title, was the “Last Word” seminars at the NAME meeting. A re-evaluation of an historical case. I wanted the students to think analytically, and to learn how to precis. I forget who apologized for writing a five-page letter, for he didn’t have time to write a shorter one. These little blurbs are distillates of hour-long presentations. I posted them here for two reasons 1. it saved me some work and 2. it took the tasks out of the realm of academic exercises and put them out for the whole wide world to read. Hopefully, they had some educational and entertainment value. I also think publishing, even on a professor’s blog, makes it real. These folks started with no information about forensics, and now they have some, and can share it in an articulate fashion. I would have chosen different words but it’s not about me, this is about them.

      Comment by williamthecoroner — Wednesday, 6, May, 2009 @ 20:32

  4. Overall it seems nicely put together. Two things stick out in my mind. First, I’m not sure about the use of the word ‘riot’ in the third paragraph, [QUOTE] …Bundy’s riot on the FSU Chi Omega sorority …[/QUOTE]. It strikes me as an odd, and incorrect usage. I could very well be wrong, but that’s how it strikes me.

    Secondly, I’m not sure who it’s written for. It seems to have sections written to attract different groups. I can’t tell if the author is writing specifically towards general law enforcement, towards forensic or investigative specialists, or to the general public. There seem to bits designed to entice each of those groups, but they don’t seem as if they would be particularly enticing to the groups they are not directed to.

    It would seem that for a presentation, the author would have an idea of the target group, and would be able to give a more cohesive feeling to the presentation.

    I’m no expert, at least, not in writings and presentations, so I may be totally off here, but those are my thoughts.


    Comment by Casey — Wednesday, 6, May, 2009 @ 08:46 | Reply

  5. Well-written and very interesting. I’m sure it can’t be easy to sum up Ted Bundy in 500 words. I would love to read some more of these!

    Comment by Tiny Shrink — Wednesday, 6, May, 2009 @ 19:00 | Reply

  6. This is a concise and well-organized summation of the case. Considering the nature of the class, it does seem a little light on the forensics, but not terribly so. Good work.

    Comment by misbeHaven — Friday, 8, May, 2009 @ 12:49 | Reply

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