Geochemistry and Clandestine Graves

Locard's Lab

Perpetrators of fatal crimes will on occasion attempt to conceal their wrongdoings by burying the evidence – that is, attempting to bury human cadavers. This can be problematic during a forensic investigation for a number of reasons. Firstly, the search for a victim’s body may well be relatively blind, with investigators having little or no idea as to where a body has been buried. In some instances, a body may well be so damaged or decomposed that little recognisable human remains are present. The perpetrator may later remove the body from the burial site, perhaps fearing discovery, leaving behind no obvious trace that a body was ever buried there.

So what can investigators do to determine if an area of soil was the site of a clandestine grave (illicit burial site)? A number of methods that have been developed to tackle this question.

grave

Certain chemical compounds may be indicative of…

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Inmate who killed Jeffrey Dahmer reveals why he murdered the serial killer

CANON CITY, Colo. — The inmate who fatally beat serial killer and sex offender Jeffrey Dahmer in prison in the early-1990s has revealed his reasons for doing so in a new interview.

Christopher Scarver, who was incarcerated at the same Portage, Wisc., prison as Dahmer back in 1994, recently divulged the details of his killing to the New York Post.

“Some people who are in prison are repentant — but he was not one of them,” he told the Post, recounting details of Dahmer’s brutal and unapologetic taunts to other inmates.

Scarver said in the interview Dahmer used to fashion limbs out of the prison food, applying ketchup on places to represent blood.

Though they were taunts, the actions represented a more chilling reality. Dahmer was arrested in 1991 after police found human remains and decomposing bodies in his apartment. Dahmer later confessed to 17 murders, many of which included the rape and dismemberment of the victims.

In 1992 Dahmer was sentenced to 15 life terms in prison after a court rejected his insanity defense.

Despite Dahmer’s abominable past, Scarver told the Post the killer initially left “no impression” on him.

“I never interacted with him,” he told the Post. He would watch from afar, avoiding contact due to Dahmer’s friction with other inmates.

That was until Nov. 28, 1994.

Dahmer, 34 at the time, and another inmate were tasked to clean the bathrooms — unshackled and unattended.

Scarver, then 25 and himself a convicted murderer, was with them. He told the Post he’d kept a newspaper clipping that detailed Dahmer’s killings.

He found his fellow inmate to have a lust for flesh, and was “disgusted” with the details of his actions.

Scarver told the Post he’d gone to retrieve a mop when he felt someone poke his back. When he turned around, he saw Dahmer and the other inmate “laughing under their breath.”

“I looked right into their eyes, and I couldn’t tell which had done it,” he told the Post.

But after the three men split up, Scarver decided to follow Dahmer to the locker room.

He told the Post he confronted Dahmer with the news article, asking the killer if he’d really done the things described in the story.

When Dahmer tried to escape, Scarver then took a metal bar and swung it at his head, crushing Dahmer’s skull.

Scarver then found the other inmate, Jesse Anderson, and did “[p]retty much the same thing.”

Scarver told the New York Post he believes the prison officials left them all alone on purpose, knowing he hated Dahmer and wanted him dead.

“They had something to do with what took place. Yes,” he told the Post.

After the murders, he pleaded insanity, but later changed it to “no contest” in exchange for a transfer to a federal penitentiary.

According to the New York Post, Scarver was then sentenced to two life terms on top of the one he was already serving at the time.

Scarver had been sentenced in 1990 for the murder of his former boss during a robbery, the Post notes.

He is currently incarcerated at Centennial Correctional Facility in Canon City, Colo.

Scarver now spends some of his time writing poetry for his website.  Related: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/why-killed-jeffrey-dahmer-prisoner-5600323?ICID=FB_mirror_main

Medical Students Don’t Learn About Death

The following is part 1 in a series about death and dying in the medical context. This reflection was written by me earlier this year, before I sought out a Palliative Medicine elective. Part 2 will follow soon.

death_and_dying-300x239

Until the last week of my sub-internship, I had never had a patient die on my watch. To be sure, I had patients on the cusp of dying – and some who did die, of course, when I was already on another rotation. I have been around dying patients who were on our team but were being taken care of by the other resident/medical student. But never a patient of my own, until my final year of medical school.

I have never been sure whether to consider myself lucky or unlucky. Is that a morbid way to think about it? That maybe I was lucky (and my patients were lucky) that they didn’t die on my watch? That maybe I was lucky that I hadn’t had to experience those awful and heartbreaking conversations with a patient’s family. In the Russian roulette game of hospital care and medical education, I felt spared.

At the same time – and I feel almost selfish for saying this – I considered myself unlucky. I had never been around a dying patient. I had never known what it meant to take care of someone in their final days. I had never had the opportunity to learn and grow as a person and a physician from those difficult moments.

My first clinical experience with death was during my sub-internship, with a woman with end-stage ovarian cancer. I had scrubbed in on her most recent debulking surgery, and I had followed her post-operatively. Though her overall prognosis was poor, she was progressing well after this most recent operation. Her pain and abdominal bloating were slightly improved. She was even about ready to go to a rehab facility; all the arrangements had been made for transfer.

But then she started failing – started not being able to get out of bed. Started being more confused about herself and her surroundings. Started sleeping more of the day. She was physically and mentally breaking down. The cancer burden was overwhelming her body, and she was not able to hold up.

This experience was undoubtedly sad, but the experience for me was compounded by the suddenness and relative unexpectedness of it all. “She was not dying when I met her!” I naively believed.

She did have terminal cancer, after all.

The emotional impact was heightened for me because of the fact that only one of her family members was with her until the end. I felt bad that nobody she knew from outside the hospital was there for; yet I hope our medical team was able to be a somewhat second family to her in her final days. I visited in on her, spoke with her relative, did everything non-medical I thought to try to make her comfortable (I didn’t know much).

When she passed, I imagined the briefest moment of stillness amongst the chaos, but the hospital quickly moved on. There was no closure, no reflection, almost no conversation. When the other team members who had helped take care of her found out the news, there was a general statement of sadness, but then it was back to work as usual. There was more work to be done, other patients to take care of.

I heard that the nursing and floor teams held a small commemoration for our patient later that week (as they do for any patient on the cancer floor who dies). I wasn’t aware it was happening, and I’m positive none of the medical team was present.

Do doctors not mourn, too? Don’t we all need a moment to breathe, to reflect on our relationship with that patient, and to acknowledge our emotions about their passing?

Why don’t they prepare us for this?

markmdmph

The following is part 1 in a series about death and dying in the medical context. This reflection was written by me earlier this year, before I sought out a Palliative Medicine elective. Part 2 will follow soon.

death_and_dying-300x239

Until the last week of my sub-internship, I had never had a patient die on my watch. To be sure, I had patients on the cusp of dying – and some who did die, of course, when I was already on another rotation. I have been around dying patients who were on our team but were being taken care of by the other resident/medical student. But never a patient of my own, until my final year of medical school.

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Identifying Insects with Spectroscopy

Locard's Lab

Entomology, that is the study of insects, can provide vital information during a forensic investigation. After an individual dies their body begins to undergo a complex decomposition process almost immediately, attracting a variety of insects along the way who wish to colonise, feed on the temptingly putrefying remains and reproduce.

Specialists have been taking advantage of this fact for hundreds of years, allowing us to discover that the types of insects present on a cadaver and the age of these insects can prove invaluable in estimating how much time has passed since the victim died (known as the post-mortem interval). Simply put, certain species prefer the decomposing corpse at different stages in the decay process, and with the right information, investigators can study the insects and their ages and begin to develop a kind of timeline.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sharman/6331634 https://www.flickr.com/photos/sharman/6331634

Currently, accurately identifying species and establishing the development stage of an insect can…

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Remembering the Oklahoma City Bombing April 19th, 1995

Oklahoma City Bombing 20th Anniversary

In this May 5, 1995 file photo, a large group of search and rescue crew attends a memorial service in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people — including 19 children — injured hundreds more and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to structures and vehicles.

Credit: Bill Waugh/AP file:

Big Pharma Creates Public School Vaccine Petri Dish in Temecula, CA

Local school districts around the country are under the thumb of vaccine pushing state laws which are financed and pushed by Big Pharma to expand the list of mandatory shots thereby creating a sick disease ridden population. The latest example is from the Temecula Valley school district that scares parents into thinking that it’s the law to inject toxic substances, live viruses, and animal DNA into your body. The neglect to mention that the exemption forms that exist in all but two states in the union. Read the damn insert and educate yourself before you inject yourself.

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Forensics: Costs of forensic expert witnesses in a murder trial with the defendant facing the death penalty.

35 Hours: Aaron Hernandeztumblr_nlx9v2T0Gw1u41i6yo1_500

Former New England Patriots NFL football player Aaron Hernandez, right, sits besides his attorney Charles Rankin during deliberations in his murder trial, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Mass. Hernandez is accused of killing Odin Lloyd in June 2013.

Credit: (David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via AP, Pool)

Forensics: Costs of forensic expert witnesses in a murder trial with the defendant facing the death penalty.

Costs of forensic expert witnesses in a murder trial with the defendant facing the death penalty. Pathologist = $300/hr. Psychiatrist = $500/hr. “Mitigation specialist” = $100/hr. All have caps on maximum amount allowed.

Ballistics: OC Crime Lab Goes 3D – Matching bullet groves to suspect weapons considered a reliable forensic “tool.” 

 Opinion: Reliability is a two way street in forensic reform: In the lab and the courtroom.

[excerpt] “That forensic science is in need of restructuring is hardly earth-shattering news. Six years ago, in 2009, the National Academy of Sciences published a revealing report, “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward,” which detailed the burdens facing forensic science.” Full article. 

Man wrongfully jailed for 2 months on sex crime freed after Denver police find lab tech made error

DENVER – Denver police and prosecutors say a man wrongfully jailed as a sexual assault suspect for two months was freed Wednesday after police found that a crime-lab technician had mistakenly linked the man’s DNA to the attack. Full article.

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About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a practicing dentist in CA and a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems. His newest book, “Forensic Testimony, Science, Law and Expert Evidence” with Elsevier/Academic Press is available on Amazon.

This entry was posted in criminal justice, expert testimony, forensic science reform and tagged , , ,

FORENSICS and LAW in FOCUS @ CSIDDS | News and Trends

Costs of forensic expert witnesses in a murder trial with the defendant facing the death penalty. Pathologist = $300/hr. Psychiatrist = $500/hr. “Mitigation specialist” = $100/hr. All have caps on maximum amount allowed.

Ballistics: OC Crime Lab Goes 3D – Matching bullet groves to suspect weapons considered a reliable forensic “tool.” 

 Opinion: Reliability is a two way street in forensic reform: In the lab and the courtroom.

[excerpt] “That forensic science is in need of restructuring is hardly earth-shattering news. Six years ago, in 2009, the National Academy of Sciences published a revealing report, “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward,” which detailed the burdens facing forensic science.” Full article. 

Man wrongfully jailed for 2 months on sex crime freed after Denver police find lab tech made error

DENVER – Denver police and prosecutors say a man wrongfully jailed as a sexual assault suspect for two months…

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FBI Upgrades Animal Cruelty To A Felony

Posted by: James Lautner, Senior Cats Editor on April 7, 2015 in Editors Choice, News 10885402_1027032530656996_5962253481430927823_n

A report from WMC Action 5 FBI Raises Animal Cruelty to Top Tier Crime reports on how animal cruelty has been raised to a crime against society at the same level as arson, burglary and kidnapping.

A Huffington Post article more fully explains the implications of this:

Young people who torture and kill animals are prone to violence against people later in life if it goes unchecked, studies have shown. A new federal category for animal cruelty crimes will help root out those pet abusers before their behavior worsens and give a boost to prosecutions, an animal welfare group says.

For years, the FBI has filed animal abuse under the label “other” along with a variety of lesser crimes, making cruelty hard to find, hard to count and hard to track. The bureau announced this month that it would make animal cruelty a Group A felony with its own category — the same way crimes like homicide, arson and assault are listed.

“It will help get better sentences, sway juries and make for better plea bargains,” said Madeline Bernstein, president and CEO of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles and a former New York prosecutor.

The category also will help identify young offenders, and a defendant might realize “if he gets help now, he won’t turn into Jeffrey Dahmer,” she said.

Law enforcement agencies will have to report incidents and arrests in four areas: simple or gross neglect; intentional abuse and torture; organized abuse, including dogfighting and cockfighting; and animal sexual abuse, the FBI said in statement. The bureau didn’t answer questions beyond a short statement.

Unfortunately, it will be January 2016 before this vital data on animal cruelty will even start to be collected – apparently it takes that long to put all the necessary systems in place.

This change of status is clearly a step in the right direction in the battle against animal cruelty. It seems to us that legislators still have much work to do in order to make a real difference.

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Shoplifter Hiding In Grocery Store Ceiling After Allegedly Stealing $8 Worth Of Stuff Prompts SWAT Response

Via Mary Beth Quirk @ CBS Baltimore: (Alan Rappa)The natural instinct to flee when caught kicked into overload for one suspected shoplifter, who police say crawled into a supermarket’s ceiling after getting busted with $8.50 in stolen goods. Her urge for a refuge took a seven-hour police effort, complete with a SWAT team response and store evacuation.Police in Baltimore County say the woman was stopped by security staff at the grocery store for allegedly swiping a bag of chips and some hair accessories, reports CBS Baltimore.

“They took her back to the loss prevention office, but she ran off when they found some needles in her purse. She ran to the back of the store, up onto a catwalk and then disappeared into the ceiling,” a police rep explained.

Law enforcement wanted to make sure the ceiling wouldn’t collapse on shoppers, and used a scissor-lift in their effort to extract her from her hiding spot. A few ceiling tiles fell but the store didn’t suffer any other damage.

She was taken to a local hospital after complaining that she was in pain after the incident.

Shoplifter Hiding In Ceiling Stole $8.50 Worth Of Goods [CBS Baltimore]

By April 9, 2015