About the Author
Darren is a 30 year veteran of law enforcement and criminal investigations. He currently serves as an investigator for the Crawford County Missouri coroner’s office. He holds credentials as an instructor for the Missouri Sheriff’s Training Academy, has served as president of the Missouri Medical Examiners and Coroners Association, and is certified and credentialed in numerous fields of investigation. He holds the position of lead instructor and facilitator for the Coroner Talk™ community as he speaks and writes in the area of death investigation and scene management.

Shaken Baby Syndrome | Craig Smith

Shaken BabyThe term “shaken baby syndrome” (SBS) was developed to explain those instances in which severe intracranial trauma occurred in the absence of signs of external head trauma. SBS is the severe intentional application of violent force (shaking) in one or more episodes, resulting in intracranial injuries to the child. Physical abuse of children by shaking usually is not an isolated event. Many shaken infants show evidence of previous trauma.

Frequently, the shaking has been preceded by other types of abuse.

Mechanism of Injury

The mechanism of injury in SBS is thought to result from a combination of physical factors, including the proportionately large cranial size of infants, the laxity of their neck muscles, and the vulnerability of their intracranial bridging veins, which is due to the fact that the subarachnoid space (the space between the arachnoid membrane and the pia mater, which are the inner two of the three membranes that cover the brain) are somewhat larger in infants. However, the primary factor is the proportionately large size of the adult relative to the child. Shaking by admitted assailants has produced remarkably similar injury patterns:

  • The infant is held by the chest, facing the assailant, and is shaken violently back and forth.
  • The shaking causes the infant’s head to whip forward and backward from the chest to the back.
  • The infant’s chest is compressed, and the arms and legs move about with a whiplash action.
  • At the completion of the assault, the infant may be limp and either not breathing or breathing shallowly.
  • During the assault, the infant’s head may strike a solid object.
  • After the shaking, the infant may be dropped, thrown, or slammed onto a solid surface.
  • The last two events likely explain the many cases of blunt injury, including skull fractures, found in shaken infants. However, although blunt injury may be seen at autopsy in shaken infants, research data suggest that shaking in and of itself is often sufficient to cause serious intracranial injury or death.

Read Complete Article Here 


National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome

Craig Smith 200x200

Craig’s Philosophy

Prevention, education, treatment and the provision of ongoing services for victims and their families are all essential elements in dealing with child maltreatment. In addition, professionals involved with child abuse know that a proper investigation is critical. As a police officer involved for many years in child abuse cases, my job was to conduct thorough, professional, investigations that elicited all available details, with a minimum of trauma to the child victims. The intent of my training is to provide professionals with the necessary skills to carry out an effective yet compassionate, child abuse investigation.

I provide courtesy consultations to anyone who has taken my training. More in depth case consultations and opinions may be provided on a per fee basis. My primary responsibility has always been to the truth and to the best interests of child victims.

 Craig B. Smith, BGS, CFCI – Qualifications

    • Twenty-seven years experience with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
    • Sixteen years experience investigating sexual offences and homicides.
  • Author of Shaken Baby Syndrome An investigator’s manual (2010)
  • Revised and co-authored An Investigative Guide for Sexual Offences, Third Edition, under contract to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (2006).
  • Co-developed Manual for the Investigation of Child Sexual Abuse and For the Kids, a manual and one hour training video on proper child sexual abuse investigation procedures as part of a training package for police and social workers. Canadian Society for the Investigation of Child Abuse, (1988).
  • Author of “Guidelines for Child Abuse Investigations”, National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, (1999).
  • Expert consultant on Shaken Baby Syndrome with the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (1999 – present).
  • Presenter at numerous conferences and courses including
    • 9th ISPCAN Asia Pacific Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, Delhi, India (2011)
    • 18th Annual American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) Conference, New Orleans USA (2010)
    • 8th ISPCAN Asia Pacific Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, Perth, Australia (2009)
    • Rocky Mountain Information Network conference on Crimes Against Children, Lauglin, Nevada USA (2007)
    • 10th Annual Homicide School, Nevada, USA (2006).
    • 9th Annual Symposium on Child Trauma, St. Louis, USA (2006).
    • Joining Together: Conducting Forensic Investigations on Behalf of the Young Abused Child, Calgary, Canada (2006).
    • 14th Annual Western States Sexual Assault/Abuse Seminar, Las Vegas, USA (2005).
    • Missouri Police Juvenile Officer’s Association, Annual Conference and Training Institute, Missouri, USA (2004, 2005).
    • International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN), Brisbane, Australia (2004), Denver, USA (2002).
    • North American Conference on Shaken Baby Syndrome, Montreal, Canada (2004).
    • Third and Fourth National Conference on Shaken Baby Syndrome, Salt Lake City, USA, (2002, 2000).
    • Keynote speaker at the Symposium 2002 Teddy Bears and Flashlights: Reducing the Complexities for Children & Families, St. John’s, Canada (2002).
    • Australian National Conference on Shaken Baby Syndrome, Sydney, Australia (2001).
    • Keynote speaker at the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Conference in Toronto, Canada (2001).
    • First and Second Canadian Conferences on Shaken Baby Syndrome, Saskatoon, Canada (2001, 1999).
  • Training Sessions provided throughout Canada, United States, Australia, India, Singapore and the Phillipines to police officers, social workers, prosecutors, victim services, school and medical personnel on Child Sexual Abuse, Shaken Baby Syndrome, Interviews and Interrogations, Adult Sexual Assault Investigations.

Science of Entomology – Prof. Jeffery Tomberlin

crime-scenePredicting the postmortem interval of a decedent is a major task of law enforcement. Most methods implemented by death investigators rely on qualitative information (i.e. rigor mortis, livor mortis). Microbes represent 99% of somatic cells in and on a human body.  

No data are available on the use of these organisms to predict the time since death of a decedent, though it is known that certain chemicals, many of which are likely a result of microbial communities, are released by decomposing remains in a reliable pattern. Moreover, the effects of microbes on insect colonization of remains, sometimes the best predictor of a postmortem interval, are not understood. Because of a lack of understanding of microbial succession on decomposing human remains, no standard operating procedures (SOP) for sampling and using this information has been developed and validated.

Professor Jeffery Tomberlin: 

Active in the forensic entomology community since 1994, he has examined insect evidence from several investigations throughout the United States prior to accepting a faculty position in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University in 2002. Since moving to Texas, he has played a major role with the development of the North American Forensic Entomology Conference and the North American Forensic Entomology Association of which he served as president. Additionally, he is certified by the American Board of Forensic Entomology.


Development and Validation of Standard
Operating Procedures for Measuring Microbial
Populations for Estimating a Postmortem

F.L.I.E.S. Facility 

Practical Forensic Entomology: Time of Death, Decomposition, and the Insects Used in Death Investigation (Practical Aspects of Criminal & Forensic Investigations

Forensic Entomology – Dr. Michelle Sanford Ph.D. , M-ABFE

MaggotsForensic entomology is the study of insects for medico-legal purposes. There are many ways insects can be used to help solve a crime, but the primary purpose of forensic entomology is estimating time since death.

Once a person dies his or her body starts to decompose. The decomposition of a dead body starts with the action of microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria, followed by the action of a series of insects (arthropods). Bodies decompose slowly or fast depending on weather conditions, if they have been buried or are exposed to the elements, if there is presence of insects or if they have a substance in their bodies that prevents their fast decomposition such as body size and weight, clothing,

The dead body goes through constant changes allowing investigators to estimate how long that person has been dead. Generally speaking, there are 5 basic stages of decomposition:

Fresh, putrefaction, fermentation, dry decay and skeletonization. Every stage attracts different kinds of organisms that will feed off the body and recycle the matter. These stages may takes days or years (even thousands of years!)

It is by collecting and studying the insects that are feeding on a body that a forensic entomologist can estimate the time elapsed since the person died.

Flies have great powers of dispersal and they rapidly discover bodies, usually ahead of beetles. Although they can feed on fluid that exudes from a fresh body, the acidic tissues of a fresh corpse cannot be digested by flies.

Blow flies are the most common insects associated with a dead body. However many other species of flies, beetles and arthropods may also be found at a death scene. Because blow flies arrive earlier in the decomposition process, they provide the most accurate estimation of time of death. Some of the blow fly species found in Canada includeCalliphora vicina, Calliphora vomitoria, and Cynomya cadaverina. The scientific names are used because the common names are not always consistent.

Beetles in both their immature and adult form can also be found on dead bodies. These usually occur at later stages of decomposition. As the corpse dries, it becomes less suitable for the blowflies, flesh flies and house flies that like a semi-liquid environment. Different fly families, the cheese flies and coffin flies, are abundant as the corpse dries. Eventually, the corpse becomes too dry for the mouth hooks of maggots to operate effectively. The hide beetles, ham beetles and carcass beetles, with their chewing mouthparts, devour the dry flesh, skin and ligaments. A few of these includeSilphidae (Carrion beetles), Dermestidae (Dermestid beetles) and Staphlynidae (Rove beetles). Other insects that may be found include Piophilidae (Skipper flies), Sphaeroceridae (Dung flies), and Phoridae (Humpback flies). Finally, moth larvae and mites consume the hair, leaving only the bones to slowly disintegrate.

Estimating Time elapsed since death or Post Mortem Interval

There are two methods to estimate time since death: 1) using successional waves of insects and 2) maggot age and development. Insect succession is used if the individual has been dead for a month or longer. Maggot development is used when death occurred less than a month prior to discovery.

Insect succession uses the fact that a body (human or otherwise) supports a rapidly changing ecosystem as it decomposes. As they decay, the remains go through physical, biological and chemical changes, and different stages attract different species of insects.

Calliphoridae (blow flies) and Sarcophagidae (flesh flies) may arrive within 24 h of death if the season is suitable or within minutes if blood or other body fluids are present. Other species, like Piophilidae (cheese skippers), are not interested in the fresh corpse, but are attracted to the body at a later stage of decomposition. Some insects do not seek the body directly, but arrive to feed on other insects at the scene. Many species are involved at each decomposition stage and groups of insects may overlap with each other. Knowing the regional insect fauna and times of colonization, a forensic entomologist can determine a period of time in which death took place. They may also be able to establish the season of death (e.g. summer) according to the presence of absence of certain insects that are only seasonally active.

Maggot age and development is used in the first few weeks after death and can be accurate to a few days or less. Maggots are immature flies and Calliphoridae (blow flies) are the most common insects used. Blow flies are attracted to a corpse very soon after death and lay their eggs in natural openings or in a wound,  if present. Eggs are laid in batches and hatch after a period of time into first instar (or stage) larvae. The larva feeds on the corpse and moults into a second, and then third instar larva. The size and the number of spiracles (breathing holes) determine the stage. When in the third instar, the larva stops feeding and leaves the corpse to find a safe place to pupate. This is the prepupal stage. The larva’s skin hardens into an outer shell, or pupal case, to protect it as it metamorphoses into an adult. Freshly formed pupae are pale in colour, but darken to a deep brown in a few hours. After a number of days, an adult fly emerges, leaving an empty pupal case behind as evidence.

Each developmental stage takes a known amount of time, depending on the temperature and availability of food. Temperature is especially important since insects are ‘cold-blooded’ – meaning their metabolic rate increases (and the duration of development decreases) as the temperature rises, and vice-versa.

Looking at the oldest stage of insect and the temperature of the region, a forensic entomologist can estimate the day or range of days in which the first insects laid eggs and provide an estimate of  time of death. This method applies until the first adults emerge. After this, it is impossible to determine which generation is present and time since death must be estimated from insect succession.

Collecting, Preserving and packaging specimens

Forensic investigations rely on evidence and material found at a crime scene, which must be recorded and collected carefully. This is especially true for insect material, which can be hard to find. When approaching a scene with insect evidence, a forensic entomologist first considers the surroundings. If the scene is outdoors, they note the landscape, plants and soil types, as well as the weather. Temperature is especially important and if possible, a portable recording device is left to record long term changes. A soil sample is often taken, since larvae may wander away from the body to pupate. If the scene is indoors, an investigator looks for access points where insects could get in. Once at the body, the forensic entomologist takes several samples from different areas of the body. If there are maggots, some are collected, placed in boiling water and preserved in alcohol. This stops development and allows the insect to be aged.  Other maggots are collected alive so that they can be kept until they reach adulthood. At this stage, the species can be determined. Normally, eggs are only collected if there are no later stages associated with the body. Again, some are taken and preserved in alcohol while others are watched until they hatch. Empty pupal casings are also collected. Adult flies are useful only if the wings are crumpled.  This suggests they have recently emerged and can be linked to the body. Otherwise, they are not collected since they may have just arrived to the scene.

The careful and accurate collection of insect evidence at the scene is essential. Ideally, an entomologist collects a range of insect stages from different areas of the body and the surroundings (e.g. clothing or soil). Different species, or insects collected from different areas, are kept separately.

Bodies attract two main groups of insects: flies (Diptera) and beetles (Coleoptera).

FLIES are found as eggs, larvae or maggots, pupae, empty pupal cases or as adults.

EGGS are tiny, but usually laid in clumps. They are often found in a wound or natural opening, but may be in clothingetc. Eggs are collected with a damp paint brush or forceps. Half are preserved in alcohol and half are collected alive. Eggs are especially important when maggots or later insect stages are absent. The time of hatching is vital and the eggs must be monitored every few hours.

MAGGOTS are found on or near the remains and may be in large masses. The masses generate heat, which speeds up development. The site of the maggot mass, the temperature (and size) of each mass are important.  Large maggots are usually older, but small maggots may belong to a different species so a range of sizes are collected. Since third instar larvae leave the body to pupate,  the soil around the body is carefully sifted. The soil below the corpse is also checked to a depth of  several centimetres. Half the sample is kept alive and half preserved immediately. Preservation allows the entomologist to see what stage the maggots were in when collected. Preserved specimens may also be used as evidence in court.

PUPAE and EMPTY PUPAL CASES are very important but easy to miss. Pupae like dry, secure areas away from the wet food source so clothing pockets, seams and cuffs are likely hiding places. If the remains are found indoors, they may be under clothing or rugs etc. Pupae are dark brown, oval, and range in size from 2-20 mm.  Empty pupal cases look  similar, but one end is open where the adult fly has emerged. Pupae are not preserved. They won’t grow and the species and exact age cannot be determined until the adult emerges.

ADULT BLOW FLIES are not as important as eggs, maggots or pupae. They are only used to determine the species of insect. However, if an adult fly has crumpled wings, it may have just emerged and can be linked directly to the body. These are collected and kept separately. Flies smaller than blow flies are important at all stages as they are used when analyzing the succession of insects on the remains

BEETLES (Coleoptera) are found as adults, larvae, pupae and as cast skins.

All beetle stages are important. They move fast and are often found under the body, or in and under clothing. They should be place in alcohol in preserve them.

OTHER INFORMATION is also important. For the site, this includes:

  1. the habitat (woods, beach, a house)
  2. the site (shady or exposed to sunlight)
  3. the vegetation (trees, grass, bush, shrubs)
  4. the soil type (rocky, sandy, muddy)
  5. the weather at the time of collection (sunny, cloudy)
  6. the temperature and humidity
  7. the elevation and map coordinates of the scene
  8. unusual details (like whether the body was submerged)

For the remains, it is helpful to know:

  1. the presence, extent and type of clothing on the body
  2. if the body was covered or buried (and with what)
  3. if there is an obvious cause of death
  4. if there are wounds on the body or body fluids (blood etc) at the scene
  5. if drugs were involved (drugs can affect decomposition rates)
  6. the position of the body
  7. what direction the body faced
  8. the state of decomposition
  9. if other carrion was found in the area that might also attract insects
  10. if the body was moved or disturbed


At the laboratory, entomologists measure and examine immature specimens, placing them in a jar with sawdust and food. The insects are checked frequently and when they pupate they are removed. The date of pupation and emergence is noted for each specimen. When the adults emerge, they are killed and stored. This process is important because adult flies are much easier to identify to species than larvae. Also, pupation and emergence times are used to calculate the age at the time of collection.


Forensic entomology is used most commonly to determine time since death. However, insects can provide other important information about a crime or victim. For example, insects can provide details about a person’s life before they died.  Because development is predictable depending on specific factors, the use of drugs can change the lifecycle timing of an insect. One such drug is cocaine, which causes the maggots feeding on affected tissues to develop much faster than they normally would. Insect behavior can also offer clues about what happened around the time of death. Flies tend to lay their eggs first in moist places in the body like the eyes and mouth. If eggs or maggots are found on normally dry skin, like the forearms, before these other areas, it suggests that the skin was damaged in some way.  This may be because the individual injured themselves in a fall or because they were trying to protect themselves from a weapon. In either case, an important piece of evidence has been discovered. Finally, the species of insect can point to events that occurred after death. For instance, some insects are found only in some areas. If a species that is normally found only in the countryside is found at a scene in the city, it suggests the body has been moved at some point after death. Again, this provides an essential piece of evidence that could help solve a crime.

1. The presence of insects on the body that are not found in the area suggests the body was moved, and may indicate the type of area where the murder took place.

2.  If the insect cycle is disturbed, it may suggest that the killer returned to the scene of the crime. The entomologist may be able to estimate the date of death and possibly the date of the return of the killer.

3. If maggot activity occurs away from a natural opening, this may indicate a  wound. For example, maggots on the palm of the hands suggest defence wounds.

4. If maggots feed on a body with drugs in its system, those chemicals accumulate and may be detected.

5. If an insect is found from a specific site, it may place a suspect at the scene of a crime.

6. If insects are found on a living individual (often young children or seniors), it may indicate neglect or abuse.


1. Time of death estimates depend on accurate temperature information, but local weather patterns can be variable and data may come from stations quite distant from the crime scene.

2. Forensic entomology relies on insect abundance. In winter, there are fewer insects and entomology’s use is limited.

3. Since it takes time to rear insects, forensic entomology cannot produce immediate results.

4. Treatments (like freezing, burial or wrapping) that exclude insects can affect estimates.

5. Since chemicals can slow or accelerate growth, insect evidence may be affected by the presence of drugs in a corpse’s system.


Article Reprint from

Death Notifications | CT14

death notificationDeath notification is acknowledged to be one of the most difficult tasks faced by law enforcement officers and other professionals, because learning of the death of a loved one often is the most traumatic event in a person’s life. The moment of notification is one that most people remember very vividly for the rest of their life — sometimes with pain and anger.

Basic Death Notification Procedures

These are some of the cardinal principles of death notification. Some of the points overlap, and all will be refined by the notifier’s experience and judgment.

“In Person”

  • Always make death notification in person — not by telephone.
  • It is very important to provide the survivor with a human presence or “presence of compassion” during an extremely stressful time. Notifiers who are present can help if the survivor has a dangerous shock reaction — which is not at all       uncommon — and they can help the survivor move through this most difficult moment.
  • Arrange notification in person even if the survivor lives far away.
  • Contact a medical examiner or law enforcement department in the survivor’s home area to deliver the notification in person.
  • Never take death information over the police radio.
  • Get the information over the telephone, or it might leak out to family through the media or private parties listening to police radio. If radio dispatchers start to give information over the radio, stop them and call in.

“In Time” — and with certainty

  • Provide notification as soon as possible — but be absolutely sure, first, that there is positive identification of the victim. Notify next of kin and others who live in the same household, including roommates and unmarried partners.
  • Too many survivors are devastated by learning of the death of a loved one from the media. Mistaken death notifications also have caused enormous trauma.
  • Before the notification, move quickly to gather information.
  • Be sure of the victim’s identity. Determine the deceased person’s next of kin and gather critical information — obtain as much detail as possible about the circumstances of the death, about health considerations concerning the survivors to be notified, and whether other people are likely to be present at the notification.

“In Pairs”

  • Always try to have two people present to make the notification.
  • Ideally, the persons would be a law enforcement officer, in uniform, and the medical examiner or other civilian such as a chaplain, victim service counselor, family doctor, clergy person, or close friend. A female/male team often is advantageous.
  • lt is important to have two notifiers. Survivors may experience severe emotional or physical reactions. (Some even strike out at notifiers.) There may be several survivors present. Notifiers can also support one another before and after the notification.
  • Take separate vehicles if possible.
  • The team never knows what they will encounter at the location. One might need to take a survivor in shock to a hospital while the other remains with others.
  • (Shock is a medical emergency.) One notifier may be able to stay longer to help contact other family or friends for support. Having two vehicles gives notifiers maximum flexibility.
  • Plan the notification procedure.
  • Before they arrive, the notifier team should decide who will speak, what will be said, how much can be said.

“In Plain Language”

  • Notifiers should clearly identify themselves, present their credentials and ask to come in.
  • Do not make the notification at the doorstep. Ask to move inside, and get the survivor seated in the privacy of the home. Be sure you are speaking to the right person. You may offer to tell children separately if that is desired by adult survivors.
  • Relate the message directly and in plain language.
  • Survivors usually are served best by telling them directly what happened. The presence of the team already has alerted them of a problem.
  • Inform the survivor of the death, speaking slowly and carefully giving any details that are available. Then, calmly answer any questions the survivor may have.

Begin by saying, “I have some very bad news to tell you,” or a similar statement. This gives the survivor an important moment to prepare for the shock.

Then, avoid vague expressions such as “Sally was lost” or “passed away.” Examples of plain language include: “Your daughter was in a car crash and she was killed.” “Your husband was shot today and he died.” “Your father had a heart

attack at his work place and he died.”

Call the victim by name — rather than “the body.”

Patiently answer any questions about the cause of death, the location of the deceased’s body, how the deceased’s body will be released and transported to a funeral home, and whether an autopsy will be performed. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t be afraid to say so. Offer to get back to the survivor when more information is available, and be sure to follow through.

There are few consoling words that survivors find helpful — but it is always appropriate to say, “I am sorry this happened.”

“With Compassion”

  • Remember: Your presence and compassion are the most important resources you bring to death notification.
  • Accept the survivor’s emotions and your own. It is better to let a tear fall than to appear cold and unfeeling. Never try to “talk survivors out of their grief” or offer false hope. Be careful not to impose your own religious beliefs.
  • Many survivors have reported later that statements like these were not helpful to them: “It was God’s will,” “She led a full life,” and “I understand what you are going through” (unless the notifier indeed had a similar experience.)
  • Plan to take time to provide information, support, and direction. Never simply notify and leave.
  • Do not take a victim’s personal items with you at the time of notification.
  • Survivors often need time, even days, before accepting the victim’s belongings. Eventually, survivors will want all items, however. (A victim’s belongings should never be delivered in a trash bag.) Tell survivors how to recover items if they are in the custody of law enforcement officials.
  • Give survivors helpful guidance and direction
  • Survivors bear the burden of inevitable responsibilities. You can help them begin to move through the mourning and grieving process by providing immediate direction in dealing with the death.
  • Offer to call a friend or family member who will come to support the survivor — and stay until the support person arrives.
  • Offer to help contact others who must be notified (until a support person arrives to help with this duty.)
  • Survivors may have a hard time remembering what is done and said, so write down for them the names of all who are contacted.
  • Inform the survivor of any chance to view the deceased’s body.
  • Be available to transport the survivor or representative for identification of the victim, if necessary. Explain the condition of the deceased’s body and any restrictions on contact that may apply if there are forensic concerns. If appropriate, explain that an autopsy will be done.
  • Viewing the deceased’s body should be the survivor’s choice. Providing accurate information in advance will help a survivor make that decision. Some survivors will choose to see the body immediately, and this should be allowed if possible.
  • (Denying access to see the body is not an act of kindness.)
    Provide other specific information. Take a copy of the “Community Resource Information”
  • form, fill it out, and leave it with the survivor. [See copy of form at end of this booklet.] Fill out and keep the “Survivor Intake Form.” [See copy of form at end of this booklet.]
  • This form records basic information about survivors and their wishes. Complete the form, sign it, and keep it with the report or investigation file.

Follow up.

  • Always leave a name and phone number with survivors.
    Plan to make a follow-up contact with the survivor the next day.
  • If the death occurred in another county or state, leave the name and phone number of a contact person at that location.
  • Most survivors are confused and some might feel abandoned after the initial notification. Many will want clarifications or may need more direction on arrangements that are necessary.
  • Following up can be the last step in completing a “person-centered” and sensitive death notification that is truly helpful to survivors.
  • The notification team should be sure they are clear on any follow-up assignments they need to carry out. (See also the discussion of “debriefing” notifiers, on page 8.)
  • Death Notification in the Work Place
  • Survivors often must be notified at their work place. Here are several tips to help apply the basic principles described above to a work place notification.
  • Ask to speak to the manager or supervisor, and ask if the person to be notified is available. It is not necessary to divulge any details regarding the purpose of your visit.
  • Ask the manager or supervisor to arrange for a private room in which to make the notification.
  • Follow the basic notification procedures described above: in person, in time, in pairs, in plain language, with compassion.
  • Allow the survivor time to react and offer your support.
  • Transport the survivor to his or her home, or to identify the body, if necessary.
  • Let the survivor determine what he or she wishes to tell the manager or supervisor regarding the death. Offer to notify the supervisor, if that is what the survivor prefers.
 Special Credit for this show given to:

‘In Person, In Time”

Recommended Procedures for Death Notification

The principles of death notification: In person

in time,
in pairs,
in plain language,
and with compassion.

Dr.Thomas L. Bennett, State Medical Examiner, the Iowa Organization for Victim Assistance (IOVA), MADD/Polk County Chapter, and

Polk County Victim Services

Crime Victim Assistance Division Iowa Department of Justice

Bonnie J. Campbell Attorney General of Iowa

Blood Pattern – Bare Bones Forensics| CT13

Karen SmithKaren L. Smith earned her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from the University of North Florida (Magna Cum Laude) and her Master’s Degree in Pharmacy with a concentration in Forensic Science from the University of Florida.

Karen spent nearly 14 years as a police officer and detective at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida. She served as both a major case detective for nearly 11 years and as training coordinator for 3 years, conducting nearly 500 death investigations and 20,000 cases during her term with JSO. She designed and instructed courses in all aspects of crime scene field work including basic crime scene response, casting techniques, latent print development and recovery, bloodstain pattern analysis, alternate light source applications, laser trajectory reconstruction, chemical blood enhancement, photography, laser mapping techniques and scientific methodology.
Read More

Ebola-Guidance for Handling Human Remains | CT11

ebolaThese recommendations give guidance on the safe handling of human remains that may contain Ebola virus and are for use by personnel who perform postmortem care in U.S. hospitals and mortuaries. In patients who die of Ebola virus infection, virus can be detected throughout the body. Ebola virus can be transmitted in postmortem care settings by laceration and puncture with contaminated instruments used during postmortem care, through direct handling of human remains without appropriate personal protective equipment, and through splashes of blood or other body fluids (e.g. urine, saliva, feces) to unprotected mucosa (e.g., eyes, nose, or mouth) which occur during postmortem care.

  • Only personnel trained in handling infected human remains, and wearing PPE, should touch, or move, any Ebola-infected remains.
  • Handling of human remains should be kept to a minimum.
  • Autopsies on patients who die of Ebola should be avoided. If an autopsy is necessary, the state health department and CDC should be consulted regarding additional precautions.


Important Links


EMS-First Responders “the first eyes and ears” |CT10

ambulanceThe moment you step out of your rig – you’re in the crime scene.

The most important aspect of evidence collection and preservation is protecting the crime scene. This is to keep the pertinent evidence uncontaminated until it can be recorded and collected. The successful prosecution of a case can hinge on the state of the physical evidence at the time it is collected. The protection of the scene begins with the arrival of the first responder or EMS crew at the scene and ends when the scene is released from police custody.  What EMS does, or does not do, can have a lasting impact on the crime scene.   

Planning ahead can save countless hours of investigation and re-work of a crime scene.  Plan as you’re in route to the scene, plan your entry upon arrival, and make mental and physical notes of your observations.  Child and infant deaths hold an even greater level of responsibility for perception of the scene.

In the episode we talk about ems responsibilities at crime scenes and what you should plan on and look for.  EMS and first responders are part of any criminal investigation where they were called to. As such, it is likely you will be called into court for your witness testimony. What you do and don’t do at a crime scene can have great impact on you and your agency.

Private Investigators – Friend or Foe | ct9

Dean and Karen Beers 10152010-1 (Large) (1)Medicolegal / Death Investigation can provide a contextual view of the empirical evidence in both death and non-death cases. We have found that the use of a full medicolegal / death investigation is under utilized – from the investigator to the forensic pathologist.

Associates in Forensic Investigations  specialize in the expert medicolegal consultation and legal investigation of cases involving persons with traumatic injuries or death, as well as cases involving serious criminal charges. Whether you facing serious criminal charges, have been victimized by a traumatic event, are a family member of a victim or decedent, or a law firm representing a victim or family – their agency has the experience and subject matter expertise to assist with civil, criminal and probate cases involving personal injury, negligence and death. As an expert component, full investigative services, or both.

Their  team and affiliated experts include Forensic Investigators, a Forensic Pathologist and a Forensic Toxicologist, with experts in related fields available as needed. Everything from document, report and photograph reviews to scene investigation, and autopsy reviews and both second and private autopsies. We are your unique private sector medicolegal investigation agency.

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Child Death – Investigation Obstacles | CT8

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 13.08.15On this weeks show I talk with Skip McGuire  about the obstacles in investigating child deaths. We all know that these  investigations bring on a whole new level of emotion and scrutiny than most other investigations. Also they seem to have a higher community impact than do other more “normal” deaths.  Obstacles covered today include; scene management, training, the need to show effort, and EMS issues.  

Skip is a 34 year  veteran of law enforcement investigation  and is currently an supervising investigator for the State of Missouri STAT  organization.

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Matthew Lunn, MS F-ABMDI | CT7

Lunn_MatthewMatthew Lunn is a Medicolegal Death Investigator  for the Aprapahoe County, Co.  Coroner’s office, and  an instructor for an online degree program  with Binghamton University.  He holds the position of Vice President for the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators    Mr. Lunn is widely excepted as an expert in the field of Death Investigation and  death process determination.    In this interview we talk about  the issues surrounding removing  fire victim bodies from a fire scene,  we explain what a Medicolegal Death Investigator is and how you can become board certified. and many other topics including an upcoming online course opening to death investigators.