William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Tuesday, 12, April, 2011

12 April

Filed under: In Memoriam — williamthecoroner @ 06:37

Happy birthday, Nana.

Thursday, 7, April, 2011

7th April

Filed under: In Memoriam — williamthecoroner @ 19:36

Happy birthday, Bill.

Wednesday, 23, March, 2011

The Elephant Story–Part 1

Filed under: In Memoriam,Medicine,Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 16:13

Dr. John R. Carter was a well-respected director of the Institute of Pathology. Coming from Kansas, he was passionate about education and put in place many innovations during his tenure. I was impressed by his teaching, and wish I could have learned more from him. Dr. Carter’s particular interest was orthopedic pathology, and when one of the Zoo’s elephant’s died he jumped at the chance to help with an elephant autopsy. You don’t get to do one of those every day, and he wanted a chance to take some samples of the bones.

Well, how does one do an elephant autopsy? You start with a very delicate chainsaw, making a linear ventral midline incision. You do this while the elephant is lying on its side. You then take 2 x 4’s and knock together some cribbing, to support the weight of the elephant’s side, and people can work in the cavity. Elephants are large, and have a lot of blood. It is a good idea to tie the support structure to something sturdy, so it doesn’t slip. It is also a good idea to have someone outside the elephant, labeling samples, scribing, doing all that good stuff. Dr. Carter and the vet failed to observe these precautions, or so he told me.

As an aside, I would never doubt Dr. Carter’s veracity, but he did tell me this story at the Christmas party, and he had a couple of Manhattans in him when he told it. I was not witness to this, and I make no judgement, I merely report a good story. For he told me that the cribbing slipped on the bloody floor, and collapsed, dropping the side of the abdomen down and trapping the prosectors in the belly of the beast. Literally.

Post-mortem processes being what they are, the elephant was in full rigor, and was fairly large anyway. The people trapped inside were unable to lift the abdominal flap to get out. They were stuck, and shouting for help did not work. Not many people really want to hang around a dead elephant after all, and this was being done out of view of the public. So there they were, stuck.

But both prosectors were well-trained in anatomy, and new what to do. Using the spine as a landmark (and possibly a handrail, they followed the intestines all the way back to the posterior end of the carcass. Using their blades, they opened the colon and were able to escape via the anus, emerging slimy yet unbowed. After a long shower, and with some assistance, they rebuilt the structure and finished the post-mortem.

Saturday, 5, March, 2011

Boston Massacre

Filed under: History,In Memoriam — williamthecoroner @ 19:33

241 years ago today, the first five casualties of the Revolutionary War occurred in Boston. Hat tip, JayG for reminding me.

Monday, 21, February, 2011

Quilts for Soldiers

Filed under: In Memoriam,Medical — williamthecoroner @ 07:34

It was started by a Maryland quilt guild. The quilters wanted to provide a quilt for every wounded service member coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. There were more soldiers than quilters, and the project expanded. It is now called Quilts of Valor. Anne Bonney has made one, here it is at the Lake Farmpark Quilt Show.
Here is a photo of the interior of a C-17 Globemaster returning with the servicemen and the quilts.

Further photo and story HERE.

Friday, 28, January, 2011


Filed under: Circle Game,In Memoriam — williamthecoroner @ 18:29

25 years ago, I was in the A.C. lobby when Dale Kantz told me about the Challenger explosion. I thought he was pulling my leg at the time. This was the first “where were you when” for my generation. The whole mood was devastated that something could go so wrong so badly. When the Columbia went down, I was thankful that it wasn’t in my jurisdiction. When Challenger happened, we were all just…stunned. And the space program never has recovered.

Friday, 21, January, 2011

Forgotten Victims

Filed under: Forensics,In Memoriam — williamthecoroner @ 19:11

One of the things that has always bothered me about my job is that the victims get forgotten. Even in ordinary cases, when lawyers or journalists call me up, it’s always about “The Smith Case” or “The James matter.” The names are always the names of the person on trial. Maybe if the person is famous enough the name of the victim remains. “The Kennedy Shooting” for example.

Now, I can understand this, the defendant is the person who has hired the lawyer after all, and is the one on trial. I always get a niggling feeling that the victim gets lost. Even with the shooting in Tuscon the other day, it’s all about Loughner, or “The Giffords shooting”. The other folks are lost. What is even worse, the victims are lost while political opportunists use their sufferings to get elected, or get influence, or get money.

Judge John M. Roll is becoming one of the forgotten victims. There is evidence that in his last moments, he attempted to shield another victim from Loughner’s bullets.

* And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.

– Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 37a

Sunday, 28, November, 2010

Leslie Nielsen R.I.P.

Filed under: In Memoriam — williamthecoroner @ 22:23

Leslie Nielsen, Sargent Frank Drebbin, Detective Lieutenant, Police Squad is dead at age 84.

And yes, this is some kind of bust. http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/exkiaSEu-Q4?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0

Thursday, 11, November, 2010

The Guns Fall Silent

Filed under: History,In Memoriam — williamthecoroner @ 10:02

Friday, 5, November, 2010

Penny For the Guy

Filed under: History,In Memoriam — williamthecoroner @ 18:03

Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot!
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

So you don’t forget, have a toffee apple and go here.

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