William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Wednesday, 14, September, 2011

Graduate School #6

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 23:44

Body modification. From piercings to foot binding to tight lacing and then it gets weird.

Just wasn’t feeling it for teeth today.

Monday, 12, September, 2011

Graduate School #5

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 05:16

A dissapointing day, where the projector was broken, the computer never arrived, and so we sat around and told stories and cleared up confusion. Next time, I have a shiny new laptop will all my lectures on it. I’ll bring THAT.

Friday, 9, September, 2011

Graduate School #5 Osteology

Filed under: Forensics — williamthecoroner @ 14:01

I. Introduction
A. Bone
B. Species

II. What bone is it?
A. Skull
B. Ribs
C. Vertebrae
D. Pelvis
E. Long bones

III. Is it human?
A. Humans gracile
B. Biped vs. Quadruped
1. Pelvis
2. Angle of the hip
3. Angle of the elbow

IV. Lookie-Likies
A. Deer
1. Heavy long bones
2. Quadrepedial hip
3. Spinous processes
4. Colour
5. 80-150#

B. Dog
1. Similar long bones, not as long
2. Quadrepedial hip
3. Spinous processes
4. 20-150# animal
5. Child to small adult

C. Cow
1. Very heavy long bones
2. Quadrepedial hip
3. Spinous processes
4. Heavy, thick ribs
5. 1500# animal

D. Bear
1. Paws & gait
2. Long bones heavy and not as long as human
3. Similar vertebrae
4. 150-400# animal

E. Pig
1. Heavy, short long bones
2. Thick ribs
3. 100-500# animal

F. Sheep
1. Snout
2. Skull in incinerator shaft.

G. Body Disposal
1. Burial
2. Cremation
3. Sky burial
4. Burial at sea

Wednesday, 7, September, 2011

Graduate School #4 Identity

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 14:24

Presumptive vs. Scientific
Bias against presumptive methods
State of Preservation
Undecomposed vs. decomposed vs. skeletonized

Presumptive–most common
Driver’s license/Work ID/Passport/National ID card (Non-US)
What it is for
Logic: Whose house is it? Who hasn’t shown up for work? Whose car is it?
Elimination: Cajun pilot; UH helicopter

Since 1890. NY system, 2 guys, same appearance, same name, different prints. Fingerprints form in utero. Lot of people over 18 have been fingerprinted. Military, licensing, prison. Children fingerprinted. Last for years–mummies. Paper dry
3 principals:
A unique identifier
Doesn’t change over person’s lifetime
Classifiable patterns
Alter–burn off with acid, graft skin over, wear gloves.
Foot prints and palm prints

Dental records
Fillings are unique-made to fit the specific hole
Compare antemortem records to postmortem records
Compare antemortem radiographs to postmortem radiographs
Known problem: Record comparisons work best with middle class folks. Inaccurate with very rich and very poor. Rich show less work than body, poor show more work than on body. Ask them why

Unique anatomic structures
Frontal sinuses

Medical Devices
Pacemakers, defibrillators
All devices have a unique identifying number; manufacturer has to keep records for the FDA. Makes life easier for me. Can be seen radiographically Call Medtronic or whomever

Blood groups
Mendelian inheritance, A & B codominant carbohydrate antigens
44% 0, 40% A, 10% B, 4% AB white population
Secretors Lewis blood group
Loads of blood groups, ABO, Rh, MNS, Kidd, Kell, Duffy, Lutheran etc.

Powerful techniques, highly specific. Highly expensive
Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms–RFLP
Short Tandem Repeats STR
Buccal swabs, blood on filter paper

Charred, skeletonized
DNA from bone/dental pulp Frank in the box
DNA Long Island Sound bodies

Save blood sample indefinitely
Court order
Drives me absolutely crazy

Friday, 2, September, 2011

Graduate School #3 Time of Death

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 17:01

I. Introduction
A. Date and Time of Death
B. Why this is important
C. Postmortem “clocks”
D. “I knew that!”

II. Death is a medical diagnosis
A. Pronounced time
B. Pronounced vs. Actual
C. Prolonged down time
1. Hypothermia
2. Electrocutions
3. “Not dead until they’re warm and dead”
D. Advanced decomposition
E. Obvious fragmentation of the body
1. Decapitation
2. Pedestrian vs. Train accidents

III. Algorithm
A. The time of death is sometime between the time the person was last seen and the time that he was found. .
B This is the most accurate way of determining the time of an unwitnessed death
C. Witnessed deaths are a whole lot easier.

IV. Postmortem clocks
A. Rigor mortis
B. Livor mortis
C. Algor mortis
D. Decomposition
E. Insect activity
F. Gastric contents

V. Rigor mortis
A. Skeletal muscle
1. fibers actin and myosin
2. cross linking and shortening
3. Release is an active process requiring ATP
4. Chemical process—faster with heat, retarded by cold

B. Systemic process
1. Occurs all over
2. First noticeable in the jaw
3. Peaks at 12-24 hours
4. Wears off in 48-72 hours

C. “Breaking” rigor
1. Not breaking the joint
2. Moving against resistance, will break protein cross-links
3. Does not recur, but process might have been incomplete

VI Algor mortis
A. Cooling of the body
B. Depends on many factors
1. Body habitus
2. Clothing
3. Ambient temperature
4. Fever
5. Environmental factors (sun, wind)
C. Timing
1. 2-3 hour plateau
2. Drops approximately 1.5°/hour (1-3°)
3. Reaches temperature of environment
4. If environment is hot, the body will be hot as well.

VII. Livor mortis
A. Post-mortem pooling of blood
B. Lack of circulation, blood under influence of gravity goes to dependent parts
C. Heart patients may begin during life.
D. Blanching vs. fixed
1. Finger pressure will move corpuscles
2. Fixed around 12 hours

VIII. Decomposition
A. Putrefaction vs. Autolysis
1. Putrefaction breakdown by bacteria
a. Does not occur in sterile environments
b. Maceration
2. Autolysis breakdown by body’s own enzymes
B. Most noticeable in RLQ approximately 24-48 hours
1. Cecum closest to surface
2. Spread of gut bacteria
3. Postmortem cultures bloody worthless unless PMI <24 hours
C. Marbling of skin
1. Bacteria traveling through vascular tree
2. Oxidizing hemoglobin
D. Putrefactive gas formation
1. Bacteria make methane, etc.
2. Photo
E. Environment
1. 1:2:8 Air, Water, Land
2. Dry areas promote mummification
3. Wet areas promote adipocere “grave wax”
a. Mutter Museum
b. Dead man’s hand
c. Stinks to high heaven
4. Waterbed

XI. Bugs
A. Maggots, flies, beetles
B. Maggots
1. Fly larvae
2. eggs-larvae-pupae-fly
3. Instar
C. Flies
1. Blowflies
2. Fleshflies
3. Bluebottles
D. Beetles
1. Dermestid beetles
E. Wasps
1. Yellowjackets, etc.

X. Gastric contents
A. Imperfect clock
1. Very dependent on emotional state.
2. John Ball’s book Eyes of the Buddah
3. “Traces of ice cream”
B. Disgusting
C. Rough guide
1. Small meal 1-2 hours
2. Regular meal 3-4 hours
3. Thanksgiving 6-8 hours

XI. Body Disposal Methods
A. Burial
B. Cremation
1. Forbidden by Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Catholics
2. Samuel–Saul and the Witch of Endor
3. Burial of body parts–resurrection
C. Sky Burial

Wednesday, 31, August, 2011

Graduate School #2

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 14:08

Cause, Manner, and Mechanism of Death.

I Introduction
A. Definitions
1. Cause—That injury or illness that was incompatible with life
2. Mechanism—How the cause was incompatible with life.
3. Manner—How the cause came about
4. What, How, and Why

B. Why is this important?
1. Double indemnity
2. Insurance policies
3. Criminal penalties

II. Cause of Death

A. That injury or illness that was incompatible with life

B. Examples
1. Gunshot wound of head
2. Hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
3. Group A β-hemolytic Streptococcus sepsis
4. Blunt impacts to head with skull and brain injuries.

III. Mechanism of Death
A. Process

IV. Manner of Death
A. How the cause came about
B. Five manners of death
C. Violent vs. Natural
D. Accident, Suicide, Homicide
E. Undetermined
F. No value judgment
G. No Dumbicide, more’s the pity

V. Causation and temporal delay

A. Proximate cause
B. “But-for” causation
C. Time delay

VI. Cases

Monday, 29, August, 2011

Graduate School #1

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 14:34

So far, six students. Three male, three female, four in the master’s program. Just basic introductory material today. I’m working on this class being less “The William Show” and more Socratic. We’ll see how it goes.

Friday, 26, August, 2011

Blast from the Past

Filed under: Forensics — williamthecoroner @ 10:15

Two people in Wayne County are dead of a propoxyphene overdose. Story HERE. Haven’t seen one of THESE ina while, since the drugs was banned a while ago.

Wednesday, 17, August, 2011

Putting Out Fires

Filed under: Forensics,Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 19:58

I’m back. Working on putting out fires, and getting everything ready for the next semester. There’s a lot of things to take care of, ordering stuff for a new class, administrative stuff, things for continuous quality improvement.

And trying to take care of old students. I know the economy is bad, and I’ve got several individuals, current and former students who are desperate and begging for tutoring hours. It’s really not that kind of job, I have a cadre of people and I try my best to distribute the work fairly for all of them. I keep a referrals list, so I don’t overload anyone and everybody gets a fair chance at the wheel. It’s sad, I have more than one person asking for as many hours as possible, and I just can’t give them the time they need, the Uni would go broke if I did that.

What I’d like to do is have a big enough forensic consulting business to hire these folks and help them make a living. I don’t. I have a big enough forensic consulting business to take four people out to dinner. Once or twice. They can do the work, I don’t have enough work to give them.

Sunday, 7, August, 2011

Going Dark

Filed under: Forensics — williamthecoroner @ 21:47

At the New England Seminar in Forensic Sciences. Talk amongst yourselves.

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