Episode Archives

Lisa Mayhew-Child Death Investigation

Understanding the Problem

About 4,300 US infants die suddenly and unexpectedly each year. We often refer to these deaths as sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID). Although the causes of death in many of these children can’t be explained, most occur while the infant is sleeping in an unsafe sleeping environment.

Researchers can’t be sure how often these deaths happen because of accidental suffocation from soft bedding or overlay (another person rolling on top of or against the infant while sleeping). Often, no one sees these deaths, and there are no tests to tell sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) apart from suffocation.

To complicate matters, people who investigate SUIDs may report the cause of death in different ways and may not include enough information about the circumstances of the event from the death scene.

Interpreting Infant Death

Law enforcement, first responders, death scene investigators, medical examiners, coroners, and forensic pathologists all play a role in carrying out the case investigation.

A thorough case investigation includes

  • An examination of the death scene.
  • An autopsy (medical examination of the body after death).
  • A review of the infant’s medical history.

Most SUIDs are reported as one of three types of infant deaths.

Types of SUID

  1. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
    SIDS is defined as the sudden death of an infant less than 1 year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, including a complete autopsy, the examination of the death scene, and a review of the clinical history. About 1,500 infants died of SIDS in 2014. SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants 1 to 12 months old.
  2. Unknown Cause
    The sudden death of an infant less than 1 year of age cannot be explained because a thorough investigation was not conducted and cause of death could not be determined.
  3. Accidental Suffocation and Strangulation in Bed
    Mechanisms that lead to accidental suffocation include:  
    • Suffocation by soft bedding—for example, when a pillow or waterbed mattress covers an infant’s nose and mouth.
    • Overlay—for example, when another person rolls on top of or against the infant while sleeping.
    • Wedging or entrapment—for example, when an infant is wedged between two objects such as a mattress and wall, bed frame, or furniture.
    • Strangulation—for example, when an infant’s head and neck become caught between crib railings.

Even after a thorough investigation, it is hard to tell SIDS apart from other sleep-related infant deaths such as overlay or suffocation in soft bedding. While an observed overlay may be considered an explained infant death, no autopsy tests can tell for certain that suffocation was the cause of death.

Arrival on the scene

It is important an investigator take some immediate action upon first arriving on the scene. Unlike most death investigations, the decedent in an infant death has almost always been moved since discovery. Therefore, it is essential that the investigator uses this first opportunity to locate and evaluate the location(s) within the scene where the infant was reported to have been moved between placement and discovery. While also noting existing environmental conditions that may have affected the infant.

Upon arrival an investigator should:

  • Identify the lead investigator at the scene and present your identification
  • Identify other essential officials at the scene (e.g., EMS, emergency department personnel, childcare providers, social/child protective services).
  • Explain your role in the investigation.
  • Identify and document the first essential official(s) to the scene for identification for future follow up.
  • Determine if the scene is safe to enter

To establish scene parameters and become familiar with the environment, the investigator should:

  • Locate the first responder and/or lead investigator.
  • Determine the location where the infant was discovered dead or unresponsive.
  • Determine the location where the infant was last known alive.
  • Determine the location where the infant was placed.
  • Identify visible physical and fragile evidence.
  • Document and photograph fragile evidence immediately and collect, if appropriate.
  • Observe the physical living environment.
  • Locate and view the decedent, if possible.

Todays Guest – Lisa Mayhew

Lisa Mayhew, with both her bachelor and master degrees in Child Development, has worked as a child development specialist in North Carolina since 1992. She has provided direct therapy services to children, as well as providing consultation and training within North Carolina and across the US in areas related to child development. She specializes in the 0-3 year population, children with special needs and interdisciplinary collaboration. She has served as the Child Death Investigator/Trainer for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner since 2000 conducting investigations of child deaths statewide, and providing assistance in investigations to local and state agencies. In addition, Lisa operates the Child Death Investigation Training Program in conjunction with the North Carolina Justice Academy to agencies statewide involved in the investigation of child fatalities. She provides training to local and state law enforcement agencies across the US, and is the author of Child Death Investigations: Interdisciplinary Techniques from Cradle to Court available through Carolina Academic Press. She served as a consultant in the development of the Infant/Child Death Investigation Kit with Tri Tech Forensics and is an instructor for their training institute.

Listener-Student Questions Answered

In this episode, I read and give my answers to several questions that students in the MDI Academy or listeners have submitted relating to death investigation and scene management topics.

Questions with several topics such as Dry Drowning, Next-of-Kin Notification, Evidence, Purge Fluid, Scene cooperation, and many more topics.

Submit your Question

If you have a question that you would like answered and possibly shared on the show simply click on the contact link and send us your question. I will answer your question directly by email and it may be shared on a future show. I will be careful not to reveal your name if shared on air.

Student Chat

In this episode, I highlight a conversation I had with a student of the MDI Academy where we discuss the training, finding internship programs, and general topics about the Medicolegal Field.

This recording was made during a live office hours session where students can log in and ask questions or discuss topics they need help with. This recording is used at the permission of the student.

Missouri Missing and Scarlett’s Law on Sudden Death

Is your loved one missing? Turn to Missouri Missing to help you navigate this path.  Each path is different in the unknown but they have walked in your shoes.  They can help you navigate the system.  They can create a flyer for you and reach out to the media to bring awareness to your case.  They are here to answer your questions. They are here to walk beside you from the missing phase until your answer comes in and beyond.

From those that know.

National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)

​- Missouri State Highway Patrol Missing Persons Clearinghouse

Kansas Bureau of Investigation Missing Persons Clearinghouse

Missouri Missing approved resources.

Missouri Missing is highly trained and experienced in the world of the missing. Most of our board members have or have had a loved one missing. Please contact us at info@missourimissing.org or (573) 619-8100.
We have developed a list of suggestions that you may want to read:


About the Legislation

Scarlett’s Sunshine Act

Scarlett’s Sunshine Act (H.R. 2271/S. 1130) strengthens efforts to better understand SUID and SUDC, facilitate data collection and analysis to improve prevention efforts, and support children and families.

Scarlett’s Sunshine Act takes the following critical steps:

  • Establishes a grant program for states to engage in activities to address sudden unexpected infant death and sudden unexpected death in childhood, including:
    • Supporting state fetal and infant mortality and child death review programs.
    • Improving data collection related to unexpected infant and child deaths by improving the completion of comprehensive death scene investigations and autopsies, and training death scene investigators.
    • Identifying, developing and implementing best practices to reduce or prevent these unexpected deaths.
    • Increasing participation in registries for the purposes of conducting research into sudden unexpected infant and child deaths.
    • Disseminating information and materials to health care professionals and the public on risk factors for unexpected death, including sleep-related risk factors.
  • Directs the Secretary to encourage the use of the Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation Reporting Form (which is used to ensure consistency of data collected on infant deaths) and assess whether it needs to be updated; it also directs the Secretary to encourage the use of a new form recently developed in collaboration with CDC to report sudden unexpected death in childhood.
  • Requires annual reports to the Senate HELP and House E&C Committees to include the absolute number and incidence of sudden unexpected deaths in infants and children, actions undertaken, and any new recommendations.

Funding allocations are subject to the federal FY2022 appropriations process.

Why IACME – International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners ep280

The International Association of Coroners & Medical Examiners (IACME) has over 85 years of experience in the presentation of educational seminars for the purpose of assisting Coroners and Medical Examiners and other forensic specialists in the performance of their duties.

This commitment is enshrined in the Association’s mission statement, “Dedicated to the promotion of excellence in medicolegal death investigation through collaboration, education, and accreditation.”

In This Episode

In this episode, I talk with John Fudenberg, Executive Director of IACME. We talk about the importance of being a member of IACME and how to have an accredited office, and why this is important.

Contact IACME

You can learn more about the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners at: https://theiacme.com/

Genealogical DNA – Solving Cases

Genetic or forensic genealogy combines direct-to-consumer DNA tests — like those purchased through 23andMe or Ancestry.com — with the age-old hobby of tracing a family tree with public records, such as birth certificates and land deeds.

The technique relies on the simple principle that, if you go back far enough in history, everyone is related, and therefore has thousands of relatives. Assuming that an average family has 2 to 3 kids, then a typical person would — statistically speaking — have nearly 200 third cousins, 950 fourth cousins and 4,700 fifth cousins.

If a genealogist can find a cousin of an unknown suspect who has left behind DNA at a crime scene, then they can use old school family trees — sometimes literally drawn on paper or white boards — to track down the perp.

That’s how the Golden State Killer and about 70 other suspects behind brutal cold cases — rapes, murders and assaults — have been caught since April 2018

AdvanceDNA Services

Learn more and contact AdvanceDNA at the link below:


AdvanceDNA Forensic Genealogy Research

Providing information leading to the identification of DNA contributors from violent crime. This may include the identification of victim and/or assailant DNA contributors.

Decedent Identification

Leverage our team of forensic genealogists to reunite an unknown decedent, such as a John or Jane Doe, with their identity. Our team accepts recommendations from the community, contact us to recommend a case.

Living Identification

Our team supports the effort to end human trafficking. Our team applies AdvanceDNA techniques to support victim identification for both reunification and law enforcement adjudication purposes.


AdvanceDNA supports small and large scale projects within the community that aligns with our values and mission. Contact us today with your ideas!

Education & Training

With combined training experience in both law enforcement and genealogy, AdvanceDNA can provide training tailored  to meet the needs of our clients. 

Speaking & Events

AdvanceDNA welcomes invitations to private or public events, contact us with your event details to learn more.

ILET Network – Its time to change the narrative about training

In this episode, I talk with Adam Kinakin of the ILET Network. Adam and I discuss the current state of law enforcement and public service professionals training, and what the future of training looks like. We go in-depth as to what we should all be expected when it comes to training going forward in the post CoVid world.

ILET Mission

Our goal is to create a collaborative network of instructors, trainers, organizations, businesses, and agencies around the world.  

Everything we do is to benefit our Men and Women of the Law Enforcement, Emergency Response, and Military Community. 

It’s time to change the narrative about training. It’s time to cut out the red tape and get the most practical, actionable training and knowledge out to the people who need it. 

Contact for ILET Network

To contact the ILET Network or anyone on their team visit the web site at: https://www.ilet.network/

The Shoebox Effect

Many of us have one–a place where we store mementos that remind us of an earlier period in our lives–either happy or sad. Those ties to our past are commonly found in a similar place, hidden in a shoebox buried at the back of a closet shelf. It’s called The Shoebox Effect–where you “forget”, intentionally or unintentionally, about the contents of the box and what they represent.

Marcie Keithley’s shoebox contained a secret, one she kept for decades, one released when her shoebox was unexpectedly revealed in a moment of grief. A flood of memories and emotions were unleashed when the lid was knocked off. No longer able to deny what she had sequestered away in her closet and in her spirit, the revelation created challenges for Marcie, but it also did something positively unexpected. Releasing the truth began a cascade that resulted in a freedom Marcie did not know was possible.

The dramatic story of this long-kept secret, which has been reported globally on major networks and in newspapers across America, will intrigue and enthrall you. But Marcie Keithley doesn’t just make her story all about her. Now known as The Shoebox Sherpa, she helps people unpack their own shoeboxes, and teaches us how to face our truths, heal our pasts, and find the freedom we deeply desire. Be prepared to consider Marcie’s question to all of us, “What’s in your shoebox?”

You can contact Marcie at her web site: https://marciejkeithley.com/

Pick up your copy here.

About Marcie

Marcie J. Keithley is a national speaker, author, coach, and, Co-Founder of Indiana Adoptee Network, she is also a member of the National Association of Memoir Writers and The Non-Fiction Writers Association.

Keithley retired from the world of high finance after 32 years to write her story after discovering a 30-year-old shoebox in her closet. In The ShoeBox Effect, Marcie offers a transparent look at a life filled with family secrets and shame, released by the power of truth and forgiveness. Her story has been covered globally, including a guest appearance on The Daily Mail TV in New York and Great Day Live in Louisville.

Top 5 books you should own and should C/ME’s carry guns.

In this episode, I discuss my current top five books I recommend every investigator should own or have access to. That list can be found below. I also talk at length about whether C/ME investigators should carry guns. I make the case for why they should and address some known objections to the contrary.

Top Five Recommended Books to Own

Effects of Mass Media on Police ep275

In this growing attack on law enforcement by the far left and the mass media is it any wonder that police officers are suffering more mental health issues than ever before.  Since the Michael Brown incident of 2014 in Ferguson Missouri, and the systematic destruction and division of the public trust toward police by then President Obama and his staff, there has been a steady and growing attack on law enforcement by mass media.

Truth is not necessary to the media companies when their goal is to destroy and divide a nation.  The best place to start is race baiting and making the very men and women who protect society the enemy.   Combine the two along with a strong bend toward a socialist society and they have all the tools they need to start the fire.

Law enforcement and other related role are suffering attacks both physical and mental at a rate never seen before. This buildup of hate and threats as well as actual harm is causing many officers to quit or at least back off from the front lines knowing they are not supported in their job duties.  It’s not long before this weighs heavy on the minds and health of a person.

In the episode Anita Brooks and Darren Dake at length about this issue and how the media is adding to if not orchestrating this attack on law enforcement.  This show contains strong opinions back by facts.