Episode Archives

How Bodies Burn ep.214

The human body burns predictably based it on its anatomical configuration of soft tissues and bones. Fire creates burn patterns to soft tissues: skin, fat, muscle, and then on select areas of the skeleton. These burn patterns convey how the body burned within its environment and if there was any traumatic injury present prior to the fire.

Normal burn patterns of the body involve blisters, skin splits, color banding of skin, exposure and rendering of subcutaneous fat, followed by protection from thick bulky muscles that overlie the inner skeleton. After the outer skin splits, subcutaneous fat melts and liquefies into a fuel source that keeps the fire burning, and can do so for several hours under the right conditions.

Muscles protect the skeleton but even they shrink and retract along the shafts of long bones when exposed to heat. Inner bones of the head, torso, and extremities gradually become exposed to the fire and they undergo color changes of blackened charring and calcination. Burned bone is durable and survives the fire when all of the other soft tissues have burned away, and therefore it stands as physical evidence of the body when all else is burned beyond recognition.

Burn patterns in bone can convey how the body burned and if there was any traumatic injury present during the fire, which would produce abnormal burn patterns, along with the skeletal injury patterns from gunshot wounds, blunt force and sharp force trauma. These injuries remain present throughout all stages of burning and are reflected in the bones after the fire.

Dr. Elayne Pope – Forensic Anthropologist

“The Dame of Flame”

www.burnedbone.com

ebone50@hotmail.com

Dr. Elayne Pope is a Forensic Anthropologist who researches how the human body burns in a variety of structural, vehicular, and outdoor fire environments for the purpose of training law enforcement. Through her research she has burned over 100 bodies in various situations and environments to document the affect fire and heat has on the human body.

Dangers of a Hoarding Environment ep213

Hoarding is a psychological condition that results in a person accumulating an enormous amount of trash and things of little-to-no value, or worse, more animals than can be properly cared for. Hoarding of any kind can pose several dangers to the occupant and neighbors, and certainly to animals if they are involved. These hazards can be deadly, and all the more reason people with hoarding disorder should have professional help to restore them to healthy living conditions. If children and animals are in the home, exposed to these perilous dangers, hoarding is also a crime.

Dangers of Hoarding

Structural Integrity

The weight of debris and hoarded items are often more than the floors are able to withhold. The sheer volume of debris in a room can push up against walls, not only damaging their integrity, but also putting the ceiling and roof at risk of collapse. Likewise, the collapse of walls, floors or ceilings can cause gas lines and water pipes to break, resulting in fire and flood damage.

Fire

Large amounts of paper, such as newspapers, books, boxes, and discarded food wrappers and packaging, or improperly stored combustibles can pose extreme fire dangers. If space heaters are used, close proximity to any debris can also cause a fire.

Collapse of Debris

Often, hoarders will create precarious paths between large piles of debris, or will crawl over mountains of trash to get around in the house. If these trash piles collapse, they could trap the hoarder underneath, burying the person alive. This could result in death from suffocation or inability to notify anyone they need help.

Decay/Decomposition

As is often the case, hoarders not only collect relatively useless items, but they tend to not dispose of much of anything. The decay of spoiled food stuffs and waste can lead to terrible odors and airborne pathogens that can be harmful or even deadly. In a very unusual case in San Francisco, the mummified body of a 90-year-old woman was found in an extreme hoarding case. Officials believe she died 5 years previously.

Harmful Biohazards

In almost all hoarding scenes, biohazards are present. Biohazards can be toxic or infectious, even deadly, and can lead to any range of illnesses and dangers to the resident or neighbors. Common biohazardous materials include spoiled food, feces and urine, blood, bodily fluids, pet waste and dead animals.

Infestations

The decay and decomposition of organic materials and biohazards, undoubtedly attract pests. Rodents will leave waste and very often get trapped and die within a hoarding residence. This further increases the potential harm to the hoarder, as well as neighbors. This is why hoarding goes beyond an individual and becomes a community problem.

Personal Hygiene and Nutritional Issues

A hoarding situation can become so extreme that debris blocks access to a kitchen and bathrooms. When the kitchen is blocked or is overwhelmed by harmful waste, proper food preparation becomes impossible. And when bathrooms become blocked, makeshift alternatives are used, with an absence of hygiene. In the extreme hoarding case in San Francisco, police found over 300 bottles of urine on the premises.

If a loved one or a neighbor is a hoarder and living in unsafe conditions, we can help with the cleanup and refer you to other helpful resources. If animals or children are at risk, we can also put you in touch with law enforcement agencies that can assist.


Episode Guest – Michelle Doscher Ph.D

A forensic scientist specializing in investigative psychology and crime scene investigation. Diversified experience as an investigator, interviewer, instructor, expert witness, and an analyst. Currently conducting research in the transference of psycholinguistic cues to handwriting during deception. The current quantitative method unites psychological and physical evidence for more concise investigative leads, with expected applications for criminal interrogations and loss prevention interviews.

http://mindsleuth.net/

Free 12 week email course.  Receive a new training and video to your inbox every week for 12 weeks.  This is real training and will give in detailed actionable steps to becoming a better investigator. Sign up today at:coronertalk.com/investigator 


 

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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30-Years of EMS ep212

In this episode, I talk with Bill Patt. Bill has spent his career in EMS and for the last several years has been the supervisor of a large EMS district. Bill and I discuss the history of the EMS field in where the EMS field and the Coroner – death investigation field merge.

We talk about the first call he ever had that resulted in a death, that happened also be the first call the local coroner. We also talk about scene control, personal decontamination, and mental fatigue of the job.

Bill is due to retire within a few months after a long 30-year career in the EMS field, this conversation is very real and at times can get very humorous. Bill is a fascinating paramedic supervisor and will add a lot to this industry to this conversation.


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

.



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.


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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Sworn Statement – Dead Hiker ep211


Sworn Statement is a podcast exploring local cases and public safety issues here in Collier County.

The first three episodes will focus on the case of the deceased hiker known as Mostly Harmless.

Hikers found the man’s body in Big Cypress National Preserve in July 2018. Facebook tipsters quickly linked a composite image of the man to photos taken of him during his hike along the Appalachian Trail, beginning in 2017. But detectives have not yet made a positive ID.

Sworn Statement will take a deep dive into the case with first-hand accounts from the 911 caller, hikers who met him on the trail and CCSO’s own investigators.

Future episodes of the podcast will delve into other issues and cases taking place in our community.

Listen to the first three episodes here.



If you have information about who this man might be please contact Collier County Florida Sheriff’s Office


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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Testing Oral Fluids – SteelFusion ep210

SteelFusion offer rapid forensic and clinical toxicology testing utilizing Oral Fluid and Urine for the detection and quantification of illicit and prescription drugs.

SteelFusion are the post-mortem Oral Fluid experts! Are you unsure about the interpretation of your toxicology results? Do you need an expert testimony witness to consult with? Do you know if your laboratory is using the most up-to-date procedures and has the proper accreditations?  Whether you are a coroner, deputy coroner, medical examiner, investigator or work for the judicial system, they can assist you with choosing the right sample and the right test to meet your specific needs.

Codeine is one of the fastest opiates to leave your system. A blood drug test can detect it within 24 hours while urine tests work for 24-48 hours. Saliva testing for codeine is effective 1-4 days after.

Testing blood, saliva, or urine can detect most drugs for 1 to 4 days after use. Oral fluid testing, in its similarity to blood, excels in the ability to detect drug use within the first moments of consumption. Urine testing must wait until the drugs have passed through the body.


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 owe only the truth.” Voltaire

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. You can return to the online school anytime to finish up the courses or as a refresher in certain topic areas.


911 Behind the Mic with Brad England ep209

911 emergency dispatchers often are the first people contacted when emergency assistance is needed.  They’re responsible for determining the nature of the calls they receive, as well as the location of the callers. They also are responsible for monitoring the location of emergency service personnel in their assigned territory. Using this information, 911 emergency dispatchers direct the appropriate type and number of emergency service units to emergency scenes. 911 emergency dispatchers must maintain communication with the dispatched units to monitor their response, in addition to maintaining communication with callers to monitor emergency situations and give first-aid instructions if necessary.

Dispatcher Stress

A May 2012 study, conducted by researchers at Northern Illinois University (NIU), linking on-the-job training exposure to trauma, placed dispatchers at risk for developing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The study was published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

“We found that dispatchers report significant emotional distress related to handling duty-related calls, and this type of distress is associated with increased risk for developing PTSD or PTSD symptoms,” said NIU Psychology Professor Michelle Lilly, one of the authors of the study.

Iam911

The #IAM911 movement is an effort to assist in the reclassification of public safety telecommunicators from “clerical” to “protective.”  But its much more than that.  It’s a movement that brings light to the job of 911 call takers and dispatchers who were previously all but forgotten about.

911 centers are the first line of communication with and for emergency service workers and their fields. If not for  the central hub of communications and good direction from a dispatch ‘traffic cop’, the rest of us could not do our jobs as efficiently if at all in some cases.



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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Reclassification of 911 Operators ep208

911 Call Takers and Dispatchers are often the first investigators involved in death calls

Marsha Hawkins, front, listens to an incoming call while helping train a fellow communications officer at the Flathead 911 Emergency Communications Center. – Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon

911 emergency dispatchers often are the first people contacted when emergency assistance is needed.  They’re responsible for determining the nature of the calls they receive, as well as the location of the callers. They also are responsible for monitoring the location of emergency service personnel in their assigned territory. Using this information, 911 emergency dispatchers direct the appropriate type and number of emergency service units to emergency scenes. 911 emergency dispatchers must maintain communication with the dispatched units to monitor their response, in addition to maintaining communication with callers to monitor emergency situations and give first-aid instructions if necessary.

Dispatcher Stress

A May 2012 study, conducted by researchers at Northern Illinois University (NIU), linking on-the-job training exposure to trauma, placed dispatchers at risk for developing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The study was published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

“We found that dispatchers report significant emotional distress related to handling duty-related calls, and this type of distress is associated with increased risk for developing PTSD or PTSD symptoms,” said NIU Psychology Professor Michelle Lilly, one of the authors of the study.

Iam911

The #IAM911 movement is an effort to assist in the reclassification of public safety telecommunicators from “clerical” to “protective.”  But its much more than that.  It’s a movement that brings light to the job of 911 call takers and dispatchers who were previously all but forgotten about.

911 centers are the first line of communication with and for emergency service workers and their fields. If not for  the central hub of communications and good direction from a dispatch ‘traffic cop’, the rest of us could not do our jobs as efficiently if at all in some cases.


Episode Guest Ricardo Matinez

Ricardo Martinez II is a creative individual who is using his skills in writing, design, and podcasting to tell the stories of those he works with. For 13 years he has answered the call of a 9-1-1 dispatcher and recently accepted a new position with INdigital telecom as a 9-1-1 systems trainer and designer. Throughout his years in dispatch, he was able to go to school where he received an Associate’s in web development through Baker College, a Bachelor’s in graphic design through Full Sail University as well as a Master’s in new media journalism in March of 2013.

Before starting his Master’s program he launched Jabber Log, a blog about current events and his life stories. His personal blog posts became a hit with his audience and one such post even appeared on WordPress.com’s “Freshly Pressed” section on their main page. From there, his blog opened doors that included promotions for businesses, artists, and musicians. Once he started his Master’s program he began doing multimedia stories that can be found on his YouTube channel. Through this program he discovered podcasting. It spawned a series that tells the stories of those in the field of emergency services.

He then created a podcast version of a segment on his blog called Within the Trenches, a section of writing based on his experience as a 9-1-1 dispatcher. He launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $1,500 for the equipment needed for a show that would feature the stories of 9-1-1 dispatchers. The campaign was funded and can now be found at www.thejabberlog.com. His goal is to tell the story of everyone he meets.

“I believe that everyone has a story to tell. I want to do everything I can to bring that story to life.”

– Ricardo

Important Links

Within the Trenches Facebook 

Jabber log


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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Dr. Maggot ep 207

The Science of Forensic 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 a presence of insects or if they have a substance in their bodies that prevent 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 take 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 blowfly 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 or 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 molts 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 color 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 the 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 clothing etc. Eggs are collected with a damp paintbrush 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 centimeters. 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 placed in alcohol in preserving 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

ANALYSIS:

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.

OTHER USES FOR FORENSIC ENTOMOLOGY:

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 defense 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.

LIMITATIONS OF FORENSIC ENTOMOLOGY:

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.

Bloodhounds ep 206


Reprint Article by Linda Cole

The Bloodhound is usually unfairly ranked as less intelligent than many dogs, but that doesn’t mean the breed isn’t smart. Finding people is where a Bloodhound outshines most dog breeds. They may not be the easiest breed to train, but if you’re lost in the woods this dog can put his nose to the ground and find you with his unfaltering determination. In fact, the Bloodhound’s scenting ability is so legendary that he’s described as “a nose with a dog attached to it.”

All dogs have an incredible sense of smell, but Bloodhounds were born to track. Their long, droopy ears and folds of loose, wrinkly skin around their neck enable these expert trackers to scoop up and trap a specific scent so they can follow it relentlessly, even if the trail has gone cold. Even the slits on the side of the dog’s nose provide extra time for exposure to smells, with a continuous stream of scent-filled air into the nostrils for up to 40 seconds or longer. Plus, each nostril can be moved independently of the other, making it easier to pinpoint where a specific smell is at based on which nostril picked up the scent. This is why a tracking dog will weave back and forth with his nose to the ground when following a trail.

Once a Bloodhound has your scent, it’s almost impossible to throw him off your trail. So, how is a Bloodhound able to find a specific scent and follow it until he locates what he’s tracking? Read on!

Tracking Basics

Humans have around 40,000 pieces of tiny flakes called rafts that are constantly shed from the skin. These rafts consist of skin cells, hormones, enzymes, fungus, bacteria, parasites and hygiene products. No skin rafts are identical, not even from identical twins, which means we all have our own unique scent that our canine friends can smell. Because some rafts are lighter than air, they are picked up and carried in air currents. Heavier rafts are dispersed around the ground and vegetation as we pass by. We also leave behind scents from our breath and sweat. In a way, we leave a sort of “scent cocktail” of individual smells that rush into the nasal cavity of a dog.

Bloodhounds can pick up a scent both in the air and on the ground. When a Bloodhound picks up and identifies an odor, an image of the scent is sent to his brain. Sniffing clothing or any other article touched by someone creates an image of that specific smell in a Bloodhound’s brain and is implanted in his brain as a scent photograph. To a tracking dog, a scent photo is more vivid to them than a photograph is to us.

Once a Bloodhound has learned a certain scent he never forgets it and can follow it regardless of all of the other smells he may come across while on a trail. Powerful legs and a sturdy body give this exceptional hound the ability to track a scent over even brutal terrains when necessary. This super detective dog has been known to follow his nose for 130 miles or more in pursuit of his quarry, and he can pick up a cold trail that’s almost two weeks old.

History of the Bloodhound Breed

The exact origin of the Bloodhound is unknown. Many experts say this dog was well known in Mediterranean countries well before the Christian period began, but the breed is an ancient dog with documented evidence going back to the third century A.D. The dog we know today was developed in Great Britain. They were originally bred to follow a blood scent from wounded deer, wolves and other large animals. As the deer population began to decrease, hunters turned their attention to fox and the Bloodhound was replaced with the much faster Foxhound. That’s when the Bloodhound’s expertise was repurposed to tracking down poachers, criminals and people who were lost.

Bloodhounds as Companions

Bloodhounds are gentle and friendly dogs. They were never bred to be aggressive, and selective breeding has always been focused on creating a dog to simply find people without harming them. Because the breed can be headstrong at times, you might need some extra CANIDAE treats when training him. However, the Bloodhound’s laidback nature is well suited as a family pet if he has a consistent and confident owner who uses positive reinforcement training. Harsh treatment will backfire with this sensitive dog.

On an interesting side note, Bloodhound does not refer to what a Bloodhound trails – it refers to the lengths early monastery and aristocratic breeders took in recording their ancestry, bloodlines, to keep the status of this “Blooded Hound” pure.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

https://www.canidae.com/blog/2017/07/how-do-bloodhounds-find-people/


Find Dry Creek Bloodhounds Here:

 

 


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

 

 


 

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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Native American Burial Rituals ep205


Most Native American tribes believed that the souls of the dead passed into a spirit world and became part of the spiritual forces that influenced every aspect of their lives. Many tribes believed in two souls: one that died when the body died and one that might wander on and eventually die.

Burial customs varied widely from tribe to tribe. Indians disposed of their dead in a variety of ways. Arctic tribes, for example, simply left their dead on the frozen ground for wild animals to devour. The ancient mound-building Hopewell societies of the Upper Midwest, by contrast, placed the dead in lavishly furnished tombs. Southeastern tribes practiced secondary bone burial. They dug up their corpses, cleansed the bones, and then reburied them. The Northeast Iroquois, before they formed the Five Nations Confederation in the seventeenth century, saved skeletons of the deceased for a final mass burial that included furs and ornaments for the dead spirits’ use in the afterlife. Northwest coastal tribes put their dead in mortuary cabins or canoes fastened to poles. Further south, California tribes practiced cremation. In western mountain areas tribes often deposited their dead in caves or fissures in the rocks. Nomadic tribes in the Great Plains region either buried their dead, if the ground was soft, or left them on tree platforms or on scaffolds. Central and South Atlantic tribes embalmed and mummified their dead. But during outbreaks of smallpox or other diseases leading to the sudden deaths of many tribe members, survivors hurriedly cast the corpses into a mass grave or threw them into a river.

Rites among Native Americans tended to focus on aiding the deceased in their afterlife. Some tribes left food and possessions of the dead person in or near the gravesite. Other groups, such as the Nez Perce of the Northwest, sacrificed wives, slaves, and a favorite horse of a dead warrior. Among many tribes, mourners, especially widows, cut their hair. Some Native Americans discarded personal ornaments or blacked their faces to honor the dead. Others gashed their arms and legs to express their grief. California tribes engaged in wailing staged long funeral ceremonies and held an anniversary mourning ritual after one or two years. Southwest Hopi wailed on the day of the death and cried a year later.

Some Southwestern tribes, especially the Apache and Navajo, feared the ghosts of the deceased who were believed to resent the living. The nomadic Apache buried corpses swiftly and burned the deceased’s house and possessions. The mourning family purified itself ritually and moved to a new place to escape their dead family member’s ghost. The Navajo also buried their dead quickly with little ceremony. Navajos exposed to a corpse had to undergo a long and costly ritual purification treatment.

Read more: http://www.deathreference.com/Me-Nu/Native-American-Religion.html#ixzz5d4EoTf6x

 

Choctaw Bonepickers

Among the honored officials of the Choctaws were men – and possibly women – who were known as bonepickers. These undertakers were tattooed in a distinctive manner and allowed their fingernails to grow long for their revolting occupation. When the body had remained upon the scaffold the specified time, a bone-picker was summoned, and all the relatives and friends were invited for the last rites.

These mourners surrounded the scaffold, wailing and weeping, while the grisly undertaker ascended the platform, and with his long fingernails thoroughly cleaned the bones of the putrefied flesh.

The bones were then passed down to the waiting relatives, the skull was painted with vermilion, and they were carefully placed in a coffin curiously constructed of such materials as bark and cane. The flesh was left on the platform, which was set on fire; or was carried away and buried.


Episode Guest

Jonathan Henderson 

Johnathan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and has been researching Native American mortuary customs for three years. He is an old soul and generally prefers the company of animals. His unique visionary approach to the subject allows insightful understanding of history and anthropology.


.

 

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

.

 


 

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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