ep192 I had to identify my husband’s head – a survivor’s story

A thousand questions littered my brain.  The three letter word everyone waited for was lodged in my throat.  My stomach wanted to heave.  My knees buckled.  Arms supported mine.  I was a marionette.  They waited patiently but no words came. The procedure was repeated.  I again faced the decomposing, torn mask of a face that used to smile at me, at a mouth that offered encouragement.  I finally blurted “Yes!”

In her own words

This arcane cavity was a vault, a cage, a bunker. I felt cooler and weaker with each footstep.  We stopped.  I tried not to breathe.  The pungent odor inside that chamber was a suffocating mix of used kitty litter, rotten eggs and unwashed Styrofoam meat tray from the market carelessly left out overnight.  Disinfectant did not neutralize the foulness of death, grief, or confusion.  He’d been submerged inside a desolate, warm, bog for a week before being exhumed.

 My eyes closed reflexively. Detective Landeros leaned in and quietly said: “When you’re ready.”

 I felt I’d never be ready.  How can a wife ever be prepared to gaze upon the bludgeoned, detached head of her spouse five feet away? Seconds passed like minutes. My eyes slowly opened whereupon I saw Al’s contorted face, supported by a white sheet wrapped tightly around his severed neck. His eyeglasses were missing.  His face was knotted, his eyes puffy and black, incongruent with his light gray skin. Wide lacerations crisscrossed his head like a network of roads. His mouth was open and round with a swollen tongue which protruded off to the right at an angle. A cavernous gash framed his badly swollen right eye where a section of scalp was missing.

It was horrific. He was badly defaced. What did he do to deserve this viciousness?  What kind of monster inflicted this destruction?

A thousand questions littered my brain.  The three letter word everyone waited for was lodged in my throat.  My stomach wanted to heave.  My knees buckled.  Arms supported mine.  I was a marionette.  They waited patiently but no words came. The procedure was repeated.  I again faced the decomposing, torn mask of a face that used to smile at me, at a mouth that offered encouragement.  I finally blurted “Yes!”

News Report:

On a summer day in July 1985, police made a grisly discovery in Northern Michigan: a satchel buried a mere couple of feet beneath the forest floor. A collection of garbage bags were inside, each one containing the severed limbs of a human body. The hands, feet, and head all belonged to Alan Canty—a local man who had disappeared the previous week. The rest of Canty’s blood-encrusted remains would be found days later, scattered across the state.

To his family and friends, Alan Canty was a married, successful psychologist from the affluent Grosse Pointe neighborhood. Behind closed doors, he was something else entirely: the “Sugar Daddy” to teenage sex worker Dawn Spens. Over the course of their two-year relationship, Canty showered her with gifts, shelling out thousands to support her and her pimp-boyfriend John Carl Fry—who was known as “Lucky.”

But even a man as wealthy as Alan Canty could not maintain such a lifestyle. When he revealed that his money had run out, Spens and Fry’s patience had run thin. Furious that Canty wanted to end the relationship, Fry attacked the psychologist with a baseball bat. The grisly mutilation that followed, all done with a serrated Ginsu knife, was also Fry’s handiwork.

John Carl Fry received a life sentence for his crimes. Spens, who was just 19 at the time of the murder, escaped with dismemberment charges and probation. Today, she walks free.  Partial Reprint from https://the-line-up.com/murder-and-dismemberment-in-the-motor-city 


Today’s Guest

Jan Canty, Ph.D. holds a Ph.D. in psychology. In 1985 her spouse was murdered and we were asked to identify his severed head in the morgue a week after he was exhumed. She has since written a yet-to-be-published book entitled Till Death We Did Part: Memoir of Deception, Murder, and Recovery

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Death Investigator Magazine

A digital magazine focused on the death investigation community. Dedicated to improving skills and enriching lives of investigators.

“To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we only owe the truth.”
Voltaire

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Medicolegal Death Investigation – Online Academy 

Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, Police, and Forensic students. This hybrid course looks at death investigation from a combined perspective of law enforcement and medicolegal death investigations.

MLDI online Academy is a Nationally Accredited online training designed to teach all aspects of death investigation and scene management. Unlike any other coroner training today,  this course offers a blended learning style combining online self-paced video training, along with opportunities for live interaction with instructors several times throughout the program, and a unique private Facebook group open only to students of Coroner School™ where everyone can interact and ask questions.

MLDI online Academy is a six-week guided course with certified instructors. However, at the end of the six weeks, you still have access to all videos, downloadable material, and the private Facebook group. You can return to the online school anytime to finish up the courses or as a refresher in certain topic areas.


 

 

Medicolegal Death Investigation Scene Kit

This exclusive first of its kind Medicolegal Death Investigation (MLDI) kit contains all the items you need to document and collect evidence from the most important piece of evidence at any death scene – The Body. Designed for Coroners, Medical Examiner Investigators, and anyone responsible to investigate and process a death.

This kit is equipped to collect fragile evidence such as DNA and fibers, take post-mortem temperatures, document the scene through photography and sketching, as well as properly collect transport, and store material evidence.

This MLDI Kit can be used in large agencies for multiple MDI’s or one single kit for smaller agencies. Packaged in a sturdy Pelican carry case with custom dividers and a pocketed pouch system. Built strong to withstand the demands from scene to scene.

Click HERE for more information

 


 

 

The Death Investigation Training Academy was founded to play an integral role in the death investigation community.  The need for quality accredited training is in short supply and high demand. Using a combination of classroom training, live on site scenario exercises,  and web-based training, the Death Investigation Training Academy is filling the need of 21st-century investigators.

 

 

 

 


 

 

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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.

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