compassion

Cop Life – Compassion for Death

Cop Life PodcastCompassion v. Security. Police officers have the unique job of showing compassion to family and friends at the scene of a death while maintaining good scene security.  This can be a slippery slope if not approached correctly.  So what is your number one goal; compassion or security – and can you be successful in both?  In today’s “anti-police” environment, compassion is critical if you want to prevent or mend, bad community relations. But can this go to far?

What is Compassion ? 

Compassion is not a singular thing. Rather it is composed of five mental and emotional states.

  • Respect and Caring – these are mental and emotional attitudes associated with commitment, responsibility, and reverence towards others.
  • Empathy – is a deep understanding of the emotional state of another. It is what enables an officer to connect with others, which can lead to compassionate feelings.
  • Selfless and Unconditional – this is placing others’ before your own needs; this mental and emotional state does not expect reciprocity or equal exchange. It is giving unselflessly.
  • Committed Action – for compassion to exist, it must be characterized by a helping action, a willingness to act on the mental and emotional state.
  • Benefitting Others – this is action given without any thought of gain; an act to alleviate suffering and providing help without recognition.

The core of compassion is a heartfelt connection in situations where others are suffering and need help and the taking of action to provide help.

Why Protect the Scene – Even from family 

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 police officer at the scene and ends when the scene is released from police custody.

In this episode 

This and much more is the topic of the discussion I have in this episode with Crpl. Keith Farley. Keith is also the host of the popular podcast -cop life podcast. Which can be found on iTunes or at the web site coplifepodcast.com 

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Questionable convictions in “shaken baby” cases

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.

 

 

Questionable convictions in “shaken baby” cases?

Deborah Tuerkheimer is a Professor of Law at Northwestern University and the author of “Flawed Convictions: ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’ and the Inertia of Injustice.” She also appears onSaturday’s “48 Hours” investigation into the case of Melissa Calusinski, a former day care provider who says she is wrongfully convicted in a toddler’s death. Here, Tuerkheimer weighs in on questionable convictions in child death cases. Her opinions do not necessarily reflect those of CBS News.

A few months ago, a 55-year-old Florida day care provider became yet another caregiver accused of shaking a toddler to death. The woman, who had worked with children for decades, denied harming the boy. But pediatricians concluded that this was a case of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS).

Even before an autopsy was performed, the state charged the woman with murder. She is being held in jail without bond and if convicted, she faces mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Based on the press reports, this case resembles many that I have written about in my book, Flawed Convictions: “Shaken Baby Syndrome” and the Inertia of Injustice. Without witnesses or external signs of abuse, the classic diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome rests on three neurological symptoms, otherwise known as the “triad”: bleeding beneath the outermost layer of the brain, retinal bleeding, and brain swelling.

These symptoms are said to prove that a baby was violently shaken and, what’s more, to identify the abuser– whoever was present when the child was last lucid. Shaken Baby Syndrome is, in essence, a medical diagnosis of murder. In order to convict, prosecutors must rely entirely on the claims of science.

But the science has shifted. In recent years, there has been a growing consensus among experts that the neurological symptoms once viewed as conclusive evidence of abuse may well have natural causes, and that old brain injuries can re-bleed upon little or no impact.

In short, current science raises significant questions about the guilt of many caregivers convicted of shaking babies.

Reflecting real movement in the direction of doubt, this past spring, a federal judge in Chicago issued a ruling of “actual innocence” in the case of Jennifer Del Prete, a caregiver accused of shaking a baby in her care. (My book describes this trial in detail.) Del Prete was able to show that, based on what doctors now know about alternative causes of the triad, no reasonable jury could possibly find Del Prete guilty of murder. Indeed, according to the reviewing judge, a lack of evidentiary support for the theory of Shaken Baby Syndrome means that the diagnosis is arguably “more an article of faith than a proposition of science.”

Our legal system has been slow to absorb this new reality. As a consequence, innocent parents and caregivers remain incarcerated and, perhaps more inexplicably, prosecutions based solely on the “triad” symptoms continue even to this day. The cautionary tale of Shaken Baby Syndrome shows that our system is too inclined to stay the course, and awful injustices can result.

The Suicide Plan – Investigating Planned Suicides Pt1

SuicideThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collects data about mortality in the U.S., including deaths by suicide. In 2013 (the most recent year for which full data are available), 41,149 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. In that year, someone in the country died by suicide every 12.8 minutes.   With those totals, we are all bound to be involved in investigating suicides.  Suicides can be acute, meaning short term or spur of the moment final decision, or a well planned and risk assessed  action.  In this episode of Coroner Talk™ we are going to look at the pros, if there be any, and the cons of planned suicide.

Featured in this weeks show is a PBS production of  Frontline that deals with the topic of a well planned suicide and the legal and moral implication that accompany such a decision.  Regardless of where you stand on the topic, this episode will start you thinking of the other side.

The Assisted Suicide Debate

Since Oregon legalized physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill in 1997, more than 700 people have taken their lives with prescribed medication — including Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old with an incurable brain tumor, who ended her life earlier this month.

Advocates of assisted-suicide laws believe that mentally competent people who are suffering and have no chance of long-term survival, should have the right to die if and when they choose. If people are have the right to refuse life-saving treatments, they argue, they should also have the freedom to choose to end their own lives.

Opponents say that such laws devalue human life. Medical prognoses are often inaccurate, they note — meaning people who have been told they will soon die sometimes live for many months or even years longer. They also argue that seriously ill people often suffer from undiagnosed depression or other mental illnesses that can impair their ability to make an informed decision.

At the latest event from Intelligence Squared U.S., two teams addressed these questions while debating the motion, “Legalize Assisted Suicide.”

Before the debate, the audience at the Kaufman Music Center in New York was 65 percent in favor of the motion and 10 percent against, with 25 percent undecided. After the debate, 67 percent favored the motion, with 22 percent against, making the team arguing against the motion the winner of this debate.

http://www.npr.org/2014/11/20/365509889/debate-should-physician-assisted-suicide-be-legal

The Suicide Plan – Investigating Planned Suicide

Investigators are offered a hard road when it comes to investigating a planned suicide when it is found that family or friends may have assisted in some manner, regardless of the extent of the that assistance.  Even providing a cool drink of water to wash down the pills that will end life can be enough in some states to charge a person with assistance.  But where, as investigators, do we stand on the issue.  Some investigators are only providing cause and manner of death determinations, which can be clouded by the assistance issue. While other investigators are charged with the task  of deciding the criminal aspect of the assistance rendered.

In part two of this issue we will take a deep dive into the debate that will most assuredly muddy up the waters a bit.  That is next episode on Coroner Talk™..

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Dr. Judy Melinek – Working Stiff

Melinek-Slide_0A   forensic pathologist can not work in a vacuum, they must have critical information gathered at the scene by qualified investigators. It is only with this information and the results of the autopsy that a ruling can be made.  It is often that a ruling will be delayed, or no determination made at all, without this information and investigation by the medicolegal investigators.

In this episode I talk with Dr. Judy Melinek, and forensic pathologist working with the Alameda County Coroners Office and and private consultant at  Pathology Expert .com.   We discuss what investigators need to provide to a pathologist to help in the determination of cause and manner of death.  We also discuss her role in the 9/11 attacks as she was working in New York City at the time and witnessed the first plane hit.

Dr. Melinek, along with her husband TJ – wrote the book Working Stiff that chronicle her first two years as a forensic pathologist  and her work in New York City Medical Examiners Office during the 9/11 attacks.

 

Working-stiffThe fearless memoir of a young forensic pathologist’s “rookie season” as a NYC medical examiner, and the cases—hair-raising and heartbreaking and impossibly complex—that shaped her as both a physician and a mother.

Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. With her husband T.J. and their toddler Daniel holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation—performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy’s two years of training, taking readers behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines flight 587.

Lively, action-packed, and loaded with mordant wit, Working Stiff offers a firsthand account of daily life in one of America’s most arduous professions, and the unexpected challenges of shuttling between the domains of the living and the dead. The body never lies—and through the murders, accidents, and suicides that land on her table, Dr. Melinek lays bare the truth behind the glamorized depictions of autopsy work on shows like CSI and Law & Order to reveal the secret story of the real morgue.

About the Authors

tj-mitchell-dr-judy-melinekJudy Melinek, M.D. is a graduate of Harvard University. She trained at UCLA in medicine and pathology, graduating in 1996. Her training at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York is the subject of her memoir, Working Stiff, which she co-wrote with her husband. Currently, Dr. Melinek is an Associate Clinical Professor at UCSF, and works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland. She also travels nationally and internationally to lecture on anatomic and forensic pathology and she has been consulted as a forensic expert in many high-profile legal cases, as well as for the television shows E.R. and Mythbusters.

T.J. Mitchell, her husband, graduated with an English degree from Harvard and has worked as a screenwriter’s assistant and script editor since 1991. He is a writer and stay-at-home Dad raising their three children in San Francisco. Working Stiff is his first book.

Practical Cultural Guidelines For Death Investigators

globe [Converted]Culture includes the beliefs, customs, and arts of a particular society, group, or place. How people respond to issues of death or dying is directly related to their cultural backgrounds. Anyone who works with families should be sensitive to their culture, ethnic, religious, and language diversity.

10 Practical Guidelines

  1. » Allow families to grieve the loss of their loved one in their customary ways.
  2. » Recognize that grief and loss may be expressed differently across cultures.
  3. » Use an interpreter when necessary to avoid miscommunication.
  4. » Identify important ethnic or faith leaders in the community and ask them about what support is available for families.
  5. » Avoid personal contact such as hugging or touching unless invited.
  6. » Carefully consider the words you use when speaking with family members about their loss.
  7. » Respond to family requests in a respectful and sensitive manner.
  8. » Avoid answering questions such as “why?”
  9. » Be conscious of the volume of your voice.
  10. » If you are entering a home, be conscious of your shoes.

 

Full Downloadable Guideline

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 New Book – Get your copy now !   Click the Book to Learn more…….

Professionalism – Respect is Earned Not Granted

What's the problem?!If you want to be seen as a professional, you must present a professional image and attitude that will command respect.   You WILL NOT get the respect you need simply by your title. Respect is earned not granted.    There has been a long history of perceived and actual unprofessionalism in the Coroner industry. This has spilled over into Medical Examiners office and police agencies as well.  But by and large many coroners struggle with being accepted as a professional.   Is it industry bias, or a reality of the image the coroner is projecting?

Five Areas You Must Address

1. Need for written policy

  •     All staff from top down
  •     Procedures for all to follow
  •        Victim families
  •        Property
  •        Report dealines 

2. Attitude of cooperation

  •    With co-workers
  •    Other Agencies    Stop power pulls
  •    Interactions with families        

3. Office Organization

  •   Office area appearance
  •   Filing
  •    Reporting
  •    Returning messages   Voice and Email

4. Dress code standards

  •    At office / morgue
  •    On scenes
  •            Proper Dress    Proper Id on clothing
  •     On duty and in public
  •             This includes automobiles
  •                   Is it marked
  •                   Even Magnetic logos
  •                   What type of vehicle

5. Training    

  •       How trained are you    
  •      Can you talk and understand the field
  •      Your responsibility  to get it
  •               This podcast
  •               Reading
  •               Courses     local Sheriff Office
  •               ABMDI
  •               Use your ME


Featured Podcasts

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Training and courses designed by and for the death investigation community.

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Money Plan S.O.S | Financial Coaching

Money Plan sosWe all, at times,  need to take a step back and look at our personal lives.  We are always in the mix of other people’s mess and we often neglect our own.  As public servants none of us are paid what would be considered an amazing wage. However, we can take steps to live better, live smarter, and plan for tomorrow.  In this episode I talk with Steve Stewart of Money Plan S.O.S. We talk about how to come out of financial crisis mode and into a secure financial state free from fear and worry and how Financial Coaching   can help you too.

Steve Stewart is a financial coach and podcaster and can be found at the links below.  I invite you to check out his show – subscribe to his podcast and leave a review after three shows.  His down to earth advice and information is invaluable to our financial  success.  Steve’s website has tons of resources and information free to download and use.  You can find more about Money Plan SOS and Steve Stewart at:

 

http://moneyplansos.com

Podcast Link 

Trophy Kill

This first hand true account of one of the most horrific  murders in Canadian history gives us an insight rarely gained into the mind of a murderer  and the forensics and documentation that goes into the prosecution of a murder of this caliber.  Dan Zupanksy was a prime witness in this case because of his relationship and correspondence  with the killer.  In this conversation we talk about the details of the murder and how it was prosecuted.   Below you will see actual drawings the suspect sent to Zupansaky during their correspondence .  This book is one of the few books that actual helps investigators understand the dynamics of a criminal investigation.  Actual court documents and testimony along with real correspondence

Dan Zupansky is a podcast producer and author living in Canada.  His podcast True Murder is  widely popular and an  iTunes classic.  Rated best show in genre.  You can find links to his show and Trophy Kill TV  below…..

Listen to the audio version or podcast for the full story.

Links and Contact for Dan Zupansky

http://trophykill.tv

 

True Murder Podcast

 

Actual Drawings By the Suspect Used in Prosecution

 

 

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Determining Time of Death

Garry RodgersDefining Time of Death   
There are several times of death. Let me repeat that—there are several times of death. Time of death seems to be a simple and straightforward term that obviously means the exact time that the victim drew his last breath. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.

There are actually three different times of death:

  • The physiologic time of death, when the victim’s vital functions actually ceased.
  • The legal time of death, the time recorded on the death certificate.
  • The estimated time of death, the time the medical examiner estimates that death occurred.

It is important to note that the estimated time of death can vary greatly from the legal time of death and the physiologic time of death.

The only absolutely accurate determination of the time of death is the uncommon circumstance in which a person died with a physician or other skilled medical professional present. The doctor could make the determination and mark the time, and even this is assuming his watch or the clock on the wall was accurate. But that little inaccuracy aside, a death witnessed in this fashion is the only time that the three above times of death would correlate with one another.

Otherwise, it is impossible to determine the exact time of death. But what if someone witnessed the fatal blow or gunshot or what if the event was recorded on a timed surveillance camera, wouldn’t that accurately mark the time of death? The answer is a qualified yes. If the witnessed event led to immediate death, then the witness would have seen the actual death. If not, the witnessed event is simply the trauma that led to death but not the actual moment of death. People can survive massive and apparently lethal injuries for hours, even days or years.

But most deaths are not witnessed. Natural death may come during sleep, and accidental and suicidal deaths often occur when the victim is alone. In homicides, the perpetrator is typically the only witness and he rarely checks his watch, and even if he did, he’s not likely to talk about it. This means that when the medical examiner must determine the time of death he can only estimate the approximate time.

These times of death may differ by days, weeks, even months, if the body is not found until well after physiologic death has occurred. For example, if a serial killer killed a victim in July, but the body was not discovered until October, the physiologic death took place in July, but the legal death is marked as October, since that is when the corpse was discovered and the death was legally noted. The medical examiner estimated that the time of death could be July, or it could be June or August. It is only an estimate and many factors can conspire to confuse this determination. But, it is critically important for the medical examiner to be as accurate as possible.

The Importance of the Time of Death
An accurate estimation of the time of death can lead to discovering the identity of the assailant. In criminal cases, it can eliminate some suspects while focusing attention on others. For example, a husband says that he left for a business meeting at 2 P.M. and returned at 8 P.M. to find his wife dead. He says that he was home all morning and that she was alive and well when he left. If the ME determines the time of death was between 10 A.M. and noon, the husband has a great deal of explaining to do. On the other hand, if the estimation reveals that the death occurred between 4 and 6 P.M., and the husband has a reliable alibi for that time period, the investigation will move in a different direction.

Notice that in the above example the ME gave a range rather than an exact time for his estimated time of death. He didn’t say 4:30 P.M. but rather said between 4 and 6 P.M. Simply put, that’s the best he can do and that’s why it’s called the estimated time of death. It’s a best guess.

The time of death is not confined to criminal investigations; it can also come into play in civil situations. Insurance payments may depend upon whether the insured individual were alive at the time the policy went into effect or if he died before the policy expired. Even a single day can be important. Likewise, property inheritance can hinge on when the deceased actually died. Suppose two business partners die near the same time. Their contract may read that the company assets go the survivor if one of them dies. In this case, the heirs of the one that died last would own the company assets. Similarly, the dispersal of property under a will might be affected by which partner died first.

Determination of the Time of Death
Determining the time of death is both an art and a science and requires that the medical examiner use several techniques and observations to make his estimate. As a general rule, the sooner after death the body is examined, the more accurate this estimate will be.

Unfortunately, the changes that a body undergoes after death occur in widely variable ways and with unpredictable time frames. There is no single factor that will accurately indicate the time of physiological death. It is always a best guess. But when the principles are properly applied, the medical examiner can often estimate the physiologic time of death with some degree of accuracy.

To help with his estimation, the ME / Coroner utilizes various observations and tests, including:

Body temperature
Rigor mortis
Livor mortis (lividity)
Degree of putrefaction
Stomach contents
Corneal cloudiness
Vitreous potassium level
Insect activity
Scene markers

The most important and most commonly used of these are body temperature, rigor mortis, and lividity. French physician Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne (1843–1924), director of Legal Medicine in Lyon, France, wrote extensively on algor mortis (the temperature of death), rigor mortis (the stiffness of death), and livor mortis (the color of death).

Body Temperature
Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. After death, the body loses or gains heat progressively until it equilibrates with that of the surrounding medium. Since corpse temperature can be easily and quickly obtained (see page XX), the search for a formula that uses this parameter to define the time of death has been sought for years. As early as 1839, English physician John Davey undertook the study of corpse heat loss in London, and as late as 1962, T.K. Marshall and F.E. Hoare attempted to standardize this analysis when they established a computerized mathematical formula known as the Standard Cooling Curve. In the intervening years, and even since Marshall and Hoare, many others have attempted to devise similar schemes. Unfortunately, none of these have proven to be any more accurate than the current formula for heat loss of 1.5 degree per hour.

The formula is:

Hours since death = 98.6 – corpse core temperature / 1.5

This approximate rate of heat loss continues until the environmental temperature is attained, after which it remains stable. That sounds simple enough.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that straight forward. The 1.5-degree-per-hour factor varies, depending upon the environment surrounding the body, the size of the corpse, clothing, and other factors. For example, a body in a temperate room will lose heat much more slowly than will one in an icy, flowing stream. And a body in a hot environment, such as an enclosed garage in Phoenix, Arizona, in August, where the ambient temperature could be 125 degrees Fahrenheit or more, will gain heat. The key is that the corpse will lose or gain heat until it reaches equilibrium with its environment.

The coroner’s technician who processes the corpse at the scene takes a body temperature, and also measures the temperature of the surrounding medium—air, water, snow, or soil (if the body is buried). Ideally, the body temperature is taken either rectally or by measuring the liver temperature, which may be a more accurate reflection of the true core body temperature. This requires making a small incision in the upper right abdomen and passing the thermometer into the tissue of the liver. This should only be done by a trained individual and under the direction of the medical examiner. Care should be taken not to alter or destroy any existing wounds on the body. Some people have suggested measuring the core temperature by inserting the thermometer into a knife wound or gunshot injury to negate the need to make a new incision. This should never be done because the introduction of any foreign object may contaminate or alter the wound, which can be key evidence in the case. For practical reasons, the rectal temperature is usually taken.

The sooner after death the body is found, the more accurately time of death can be assessed by this method. Once the body reaches ambient temperature, all bets are off. But even if done correctly and soon after death, body temperature determination is subject to several sources of inaccuracy.

One assumption made in the calculations is the initial body temperature. The normal 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is an average and varies from person to person. Some people have higher normal temperatures than others. Women tend to run higher temperatures than do men. Illnesses associated with fevers can markedly elevate the temperature of the person at the time of death, while chronic illness, dehydration, or the presence of prolonged shock may lower initial body temperature. There is also some diurnal (basically morning versus evening) variation in body temperature in most people. All this means that the calculation begins with some degree of error.

A dead body looses heat passively by three distinct mechanisms: radiation (heat lost as infrared heat rays), conduction (heat passed on to any object that contacts the body), and convection (heat lost into the moving air). The state of the corpse and the environmental conditions greatly affect the rate of heat loss.

Obesity, heavy clothing, warm still air, exposure to direct sunlight, and an enclosed environment slow heat loss. Fat and clothing make good insulators, so an obese person in a sweater will lose heat much more slowly than would a thin, unclothed corpse exposed to cold or moving air, water, or shade. Children and the elderly tend to lose heat faster, as do those who are chronically ill or emaciated. If the body is in contact with cold surfaces such as marble or cool concrete, heat loss will be greater.

There’s still one more curve ball: Several days after death, as fly maggots begin to feed on the corpse, their activity and internal metabolic processes can at times raise the temperature of the corpse. This should not be a problem for the forensic investigator, though, because once this insect activity is that far advanced body temperature is no longer of use.

As you can see, heat loss is fraught with inaccuracies. Still, with early and careful measurement of the core body temperature and consideration for the conditions surrounding the corpse, a reasonably accurate estimate can often be made.

Let’s say two people are murdered in a home in Houston, Texas, during late summer. The bodies are discovered four hours after death. One body is left in the garage where the ambient temperature is 110 degrees Fahrenheit, while the other is in the living room where air conditioning holds the temperature at 72. The corpse inside would lose heat at about 1.5 degrees per hour, so that if the medical examiner had evidence that the death had occurred four hours earlier, he would expect to find a core body temperature of approximately 92 to 93 degrees.

1.5 degrees / hour x 4 hours = 6 degrees
98.6 – 6 = 92.6

If he found a different core temperature, he would revise his estimate. But what if the victim were very old or young, thin, unclothed, or lying on a cold tile floor near an air conditioning vent? Under these circumstances, the heat loss would be more rapid. The core temperature could be 88 to 90 degrees, perhaps even less. If the medical examiner failed to consider these mitigating factors, an erroneous estimate of the time of death could result. For example, if the core temperature was 88 degrees and he failed to adjust for the environmental conditions around the body, he could estimate that approximately seven hours had elapsed since death.

98.6 – 88 = 10.6 / 1.5 = 7.1 hours

An estimate of six to eight hours is quite different from an estimate of three to five hours. The killer may have an iron clad alibi for the former time period, and easily could since he hadn’t arrived at the crime scene at that time. He could have been having lunch with twenty people. But only four hours later, he might not have such an alibi.

What of the body in the garage? The ME would expect the corpse to gain heat at the same rate of 1.5 degrees per hour. Thus, the core temperature should be approximately 104 degrees Fahrenheit, or perhaps even higher.

  Time since death: …. Changes observed

1-2 hours: ………Early signs of lividity.

2-5 hours: ………Clear signs of lividity throughout body. Fixed in 6-10 hours

5-7 hours: ………Rigor mortis begins in face.

8-12 hours: …….Rigor mortis established throughout the body, extending to arms and legs

12 hours: ……….Body has cooled to about 25°C internally.

20-24 hours: …..Body has cooled to surrounding temperature.

24 hours: ……….Rigor mortis begins to disappear from the body in  roughly the same order as it appeared.

36 hours: ……….Rigor mortis has completely disappeared.

48 hours: ……….Body discoloration shows that decomposition is beginning.

Sandbox Wars – End of Life Battles

Stephanie PayneStephanie Payne, author of The Sandbox Wars, talks about the battles that can occur when end of life planning is not completed. As Coroners, Medical Examiners, and death investigators we can be faced with families unprepared for a death of a loved one.  You may also be faced with the “long lost” family member that suddenly appears and wants to control the investigation and the family.    

For thirty years Stephanie Payne has been a practicing RN with special interest in Home Health and Hospice.  Her education is varied and diverse:  St. Louis Community College, Webster University and Landmark Education.  As a talented artist Stephanie has stretched her skills by writing about her passion: Helping people.  Next Stephanie Payne and Michael Keune have produced a documentary:   Legacy Decisions.  Stephanie has been presenting this for radio, Senior Groups, Community Organizations, Business Forums, Attorneys and Financial Planners. 

The Sandbox Wars

End of Life Decisions The Most Important Gift to Your Family

Learn about the end of your life with real life stories about how families behave during your last days.  There is a solution to our lives and The Sandbox Wars address some of the most important aspects of achieving a successful resolution to a life well lived.  There is wonderful artwork in the book by Chuck Ridler which adds humor and character to the stories.  Leland’s Road song, Whispers in My Ear, augments the experience of the book.

Visit www.TheSandBoxWars.com to listen to the music and enjoy more stories by Stephanie Payne.