What Are Autoerotic Deaths – (and what they are not)

Autoerotic Death

Autoerotic deaths are accidental deaths that occur during solitary sexual activity in which some type of apparatus that was used to enhance the sexual stimulation of the deceased caused the unintentional death.

These deaths are accidental, they are not suicides as some have thought. The practitioner does not intend to die as a result of this activity, but instead, dies as a result of an overdoes of asphyxiation or a failure in the mechanism of pleasure induced by the victim.

Autoerotic deaths come in many forms and are not just from an asphyxial hanging, although asphyxia is the most common.

These deaths can also occur as a result of:

Ligature Compression of the Neck
Airway Obstruction
Chest Compression
Chemicals or Gases
Electrical Stimulation
Foreign Body Insert into Penis or Anus

By its very definition these acts are solitary. Some have proposed that when an accidental death occurs during a sexual act between two people, where the airway was obstructed or blood flow was restricted during the sexual act, should be considered an autoerotic death. However, those deaths may be accidental but not autoerotic. Auto is defined as self, one’s own, or by oneself. Although monoerotic might be a better description, auto is still the appropriate terminology.

In terms of the type of apparatus used. Some mechanism; whether ligature, mechanical, or manual has to be in use as a way to enhance the sexual stimulation and arousal of the practitioner.

Some investigators find it hard to believe that these acts are in any way sexually gratifying. This practice is very much a paraphilia act, and performed by a very slim majority of the population. It is important however to keep in mind that there are three general sources of sexual pleasure.

1. Stimulation of the genital organs .
2. Lack of oxygen to the central nervous system.Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 08.11.32
3. The creation of a fear and anguish atmosphere.

Generally when a person first starts engaging in these acts, asphyxia or other mechanism are used in combination with masturbation or sexual intercourse. However, intercourse would rule out autoerotic by definition, but over time the need to masturbate will decrease and the asphyxia itself becomes the sexual activity.

It is important to understand that the evidence of masturbation during the fatal event is not mandatory . Quite the opposite actually, it is rare to find such evidence. It is common for the practitioner to use autoerotic stimulation as a means of sexual arousal and then masturbate to climax after having gained an erection and efficient arousal. A form of foreplay, if you will.

Autoerotic fatalities are classified as two types; typical and atypical. Typical deaths means they fit into a set of predetermined standards of accidental deaths as it relates to victimology, method, paraphilia and history. Atypical deaths do not meet these criteria. We will further explore these classifications in later chapters when victimology is addressed..

Lastly, in defining autoerotic deaths you must keep in mind that these are unintentional deaths – not suicide. But exercise extreme caution; you must rule these cases based upon the probability of available evidence.An accurate cause of death is crucial, a point of discussion later in this book. But better to rule a death suicide when a couple of scene features exist, while absolute facts cannot support a definitive

If someone dies during an autoerotic act, or sexual stimulation, as a result of heart attack, stoke, arrhythmia, etc., it is not an autoerotic death. Natural causes must be ruled

Sex and sexual activity can take a toll on the body; changing heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and adrenaline levels. Strenuous activity can be a common cause for heart attacks and strokes.

Remember, an autoerotic death must result in accidental death caused from the apparatus used to increase sexual pleasure. If a person dies as the result of a heart attack during the act of normal masturbation, normal meaning without the use of any aids other than one’s hand, the cause of death would be heart attack. The autoerotic factor would never come into play. The same would be true regardless of dress, activity, or scene features present. Further, if someone dies during a sexual game with a partner, that may very well be an accident, but by its very definition cannot be ruled autoerotic in nature because there was no intent of a solitary act.

Case example. A man in his mid 60’s was found by his wife sitting in a chair wearing only women’s shoes and a bra. A vacuum cleaner was nearby and in operation. The man’s penis was still inside the vacuum hose as it was apparent he was using it to aid in his masturbation. The medical examiner found the cause of death to be heart attack. So even though some of the scene features present are common with autoerotic deaths, and it was obvious that autoerotic activity was taking place, this was a natural causes death because the apparatus used, vacuum cleaner, did not cause the death due to a malfunction of its intended use for sexual pleasure.

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


True Murder Podcast


Actual Drawings By the Suspect Used in Prosecution



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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 to listen to the music and enjoy more stories by Stephanie Payne.

Crime Scene Tech | Stefanie Elliott CST

3340 Elliott, Stefanie

Forensics is the study of the past as it relates to the present.  Criminal forensic is applying  science  to the law. In short it’s the study of known science and relating it to a crime scene for the determination and prosecution of a crime.  Many men and women are specially trained to collect evidence and in some cases even apply the science to this collected evidence and provide answers to investigators.

On this episode of Coroner Talk™  I talk with Crime Scene Technician and college professor – Stefanie Elliott of the St. Johns, FL Sheriff’s office.   Our discussion centers around what crime scene technicians  do for investigators, how science is applied to criminal cases, unique circumstances where forensics saved a case, and much more.

Listen to the audio of this conversation to learn more

You can contact Stefanie


Autoerotic Fatalities – Asphyxia

Autoerotic ropeAutoerotic deaths are accidental deaths that occur during solitary sexual activity in which some type of apparatus that was used to enhance the sexual stimulation of the deceased caused the unintentional death.

The prevalence of auto-erotic fatalities is difficult to calculate, since a coroner often records a verdict of accident or misadventure. It is under these labels that many auto-erotic deaths lie hidden. Sometimes, however, where uncertainty exists over whether the person intended suicide, the verdict is left open. Bereaved families usually prefer this. ‘They often find an open verdict a little easier to accept, certainly easier than misadventure which might imply unsuspected goings-on15 scene features can be encountered, in different combinations, at the scenes of autoerotic deaths.  However, it is our duty as investigators to come to ruling in every case we can.  Much is riding on your answer, so a thorough investigation is required.

15 features commonly found at scenes of autoerotic deaths.  Any combination of these may be observed.

  1. Nudity
  2. Exposed Genitals
  3. Cross-Dressing
  4. Evidence of Masturbation Activity
  5. Foreign Body Insertion in the Anus
  6. Lubricants
  7. Pornography
  8. Mirror
  9. Video Recording
  10. Covering of face ( mask, duct tape, panty hose, etc)
  11. Bondage of Genitals
  12. Other Bondage ( arms, legs, and body bound)
  13. Other Masochistic Behavior
  14. Protective Padding in Hanging
  15. Evidence of Repetitive Behavior

Commonly, the victim is found nude or with exposed genitals. This is an important clue to the possibility of autoerotic death. However, not all dead bodies found nude or with exposed genitals are victims of autoerotic death.  However,  not all victims of autoerotic deaths are found nude or with exposed genitals.


Typical victim of an autoerotic  accident is a white male average age 33.               

96% are Male     96% White

Females are rare,  as are blacks, Asian, and Native Americans .

Youngest reported case age 9   Oldest   89 

15 to 19 years old represent only 5%  to 16%  of victims

Masturabation Mandate 

It has been wrongly believed by many investigators that evidence of masturbation  (exposed genitals or presents of semen)  had to be present for the autoerotic ruling . This is NOT true.  Sexual pleasure is sometimes gained simply by the actions of the victim – and sometimes as a precursor – or sexual stimulate – prior to masturbation.

As For Semen

In hanging deaths semen can be frequently found due to  spontaneous ejaculation  caused by a nerve response. Further, it was commonly observed in the day of public hanging that the condemned would get an erection after dropping from the gallows floor.  This is believed to be a symptom of a severed spinal cord.  (this led people to believe that hanging caused sexual pleasure)

Asphyxiation most common form.

The most common form of dangerous autoerotic activity involves the use of some technique for reducing the oxygen to the brain to achieve an altered state of consciousness.It is important to note the distinction between autoerotic or sexual asphyxia on the one hand, and asphyxia as a cause of death on the other –

Autoerotic asphyxia refers to the use of asphyxia to heighten sexual arousal, more often than not with nonfatal outcome.

The practitioner  who dies, most often dies from an overdose of asphyxiation.The autoerotic practitioner who dies while engaged in such acts, most often dies from an overdose of asphyxiation when, for one reason or another,  becomes unable to terminate his means of enjoyment.

Positional such as fall, slips, etc. or if victim becomes unconscious.Sometimes however, someone engaged in autoerotic asphyxia may die a non-asphyxial death – such as heart attack, stroke, or exposure. This will change the manor of death to natural.  NOT autoerotic asphyxia.

Asphyxial Death Process

Amount of pressure to occlude the neck structures

Jugular Veins         4.5 lbs

Carotid Arteries     11 lbs

Trachea                    33 lbs

Vertebral Arteries  66 lbs

(On average the human head weighs 10 pounds)

Agonal Sequence in Hanging

Loss of Consciousness        10 +- 3s

Convulsions                         14 +- 3s

Decerebrate Rigidity           19 +- 5s     (extended)

Start of deep rhythmic abdominal respiratory movements          19 +- 5s

Decorticate Rigidity         38 +- 15s     (flexion)

Loss of muscle tone          1 min 17s  +- 25s

End of deep respiratory movements    1 min 51s  +- 30s

Last muscle movement           4 min 12s  +-  2 min 29s

Listen  to the audio version for a more complete conversation on the topic. 

Why We Love Serial Killers – Dr. Scott Bonn

 Why We Love Serial Killers Book CoverSerial killers hold the fascination of the public, whether in true crime news accounts of individuals such as Ted Bundy or fictional depictions such as the television shows Dexter and Criminal Minds or popular movies such as the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” or “Silence of the Lambs.” Serial killers seem so purely predatory and unremorseful that our society cannot help but display a macabre interest in them. Although they account for no more than 1% of the approximately 15,000 homicides in the U.S. annually, serial killers receive a disproportionate amount of media attention due to the incomprehensible savagery of their deeds.

Significantly, serial killers differ from mass murderers or spree murderers. A mass murder can be defined as the killing of multiple people at a single location where the victims may be either randomly selected or targeted. A mass murderer is often killed at the scene of the crime; sometimes by his/her own hand.  A spree murder is the killing of multiple people at different locations over a short period of time (the maximum duration is usually 7 days).  The killer in spree murders often but not always knows his/her victims, and most often targets family members or romantic partners.

I use the following list of behavioral criteria to define serial homicide for the purposes of my research:

            1. At least three murdered victims.

            2. The murders take place in separate events, at different times.

            3. The killer experiences an emotional cooling off period between murders.

The key distinction between serial killers and mass or spree killers is this emotional cooling off period in which the killer blends back into his/her seemingly normal life. The predator reemerges to strike again when the urge to kill becomes overwhelming. The duration of the cooling off period can vary from weeks to months or even years, and varies by killer. Dennis Rader or “Bind, Torture, Kill” (BTK) had 10 known victims over nearly 30 years!       


There is some disagreement over the serial killer definition, mostly about the number of killings required. There is also debate as to whether organized crime hit-men should be considered serial killers.  Doc Bonn argues that they are not serial killers because their motivation is purely business and their killings fulfill no emotional needs.  Serial killers are driven to murder by urges and fantasies that they frequently do not comprehend.       

Doc Bonn’s Research

Doc Bonn is currently researching and writing a popular book on the public’s fascination with serial killers titled, “Why We Love Serial Killers,” published by Skyhorse Press for release in 2014. This book examines the social processes through which serial killers often become morbid pop culture celebrities.  The book seeks to answer the following:

  • What are the roles of the popular media, state officials and the killers themselves in the social construction of serial killers’ public identities? 
  • Why are so many people fascinated with serial killers?
  • What social-psychological needs do serial killers fulfill for the public? 

In order to help answer these questions, Doc Bonn is exploring the mysterious, psychopathic criminal minds of infamous serial killers. Ironically, and perhaps shockingly, this book proposes that serial killers may actually serve a function in society by clarifying the meaning of “evil” and setting moral boundaries—that is, by helping to establish the outer limits of what one human being can do to others.

Doc Bonn believes that it is quite natural for people to be fascinated by why serial killers commit their murders and for their grizzly exploits to become media spectacles.  Let us know what you think about this topic. 

Dr.Scott Bonn-coroner talk Scott Bonn PhD

Dr. Scott Bonn (“Doc Bonn”) is Professor of Criminology, media expert and analyst, public speaker and author. He is an expert on criminal behavior and the motivations of criminals.  He offers insights into various types of crime, including white-collar, state crime, bullying, domestic violence, sexual assault and serial homicide.  His expert commentary frequently appears in the popular news media. 

Doc Bonn is the author of “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq,” a critically acclaimed book on war crime and terrorism from Rutgers University Press (2010).  His latest book is on the public’s fascination with serial killers in which he offers insights into the minds of infamous predators and explains how and why serial killers are often transformed into ghoulish popular culture celebrities by the media. Titled “Why We Love Serial Killers” the book is published by Skyhorse Press and released in October, 2014.

Professor Bonn is not your average academic. He combines the knowledge and skills of an academic scholar with more than twenty years of senior-level corporate experience in advertising and news and entertainment media. As such, he has unique insights into the public’s attitudes and beliefs, how they are shaped, and the agenda-setting powers of political leaders and the news media.

Doc Bonn has developed a unique, integrated, and interdisciplinary theory called “critical communication” to explain how state officials and the news media actually shape public opinion on complex issues such as homicide, capital punishment, drugs, abortion and terrorism.

Doc Bonn received a doctorate in sociology (criminology) at the University of Miami, FL, and a masters degree in criminal justice administration at San Jose State University. He teaches courses in criminology, sociology of deviance, media and crime, and criminal justice. His primary research interests include white-collar crime, state crime, domestic violence, serial homicide and how the media influence society.

Prior to his academic career, Bonn held high-ranking corporate positions such as Vice President at NBC Television Network, and Executive Vice President at SonicNet, a leading music website, now a part of MTV Networks. He resides in Manhattan, New York.

Burning Bodies – The Dame of Flame

leb_bodies_burning[app_audio src=””]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 AnthropologistPope Picture for website

“The Dame of Flame”

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.

Death Notifications | CT14

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

Basic Death Notification Procedures

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

“In Person”

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

“In Time” — and with certainty

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

“In Pairs”

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

“In Plain Language”

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

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

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

attack at his work place and he died.”

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

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

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

“With Compassion”

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

Follow up.

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

‘In Person, In Time”

Recommended Procedures for Death Notification

The principles of death notification: In person

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

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

Polk County Victim Services

Crime Victim Assistance Division Iowa Department of Justice

Bonnie J. Campbell Attorney General of Iowa

Blood Pattern – Bare Bones Forensics| CT13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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