Postmortem Changes - Rigor Mortis, Livor Mortis, Algor Mortis, Decomposition Clothing - Style, Color, Characteristics (e.g.,Tears, Holes, Everted Pockets, Blood Stain Patterns) Blood - Location, Patterns, Direction Of Flow, Degree Of Coagulation, Color Physical/Trace - Hairs, Fibers, Glass, Paint, Etc. (Corn Meal On Baby Burn/Epidermis) Valuables - Wallet, Jewelry, White Skin On Fingers/Wrists?
Death Scene Investigation
Death Scene Investigation & The Medicolegal Death Investigator Kelly Green B.A., F-ABMDISenior Forensic Death InvestigatorTarrant, Parker & Denton County Medical Examiners District
What is a Medicolegal Death Investigator? Why is the Medical Examiners Office Here? What can the Medical Examiners Office do to help me?
Duties of the Death Investigator Scene Investigation Scene Photography Secure property that is on the deceased Arrange for proper transportation of the body Preserve Trace Evidence ID the Deceased Notify the Next of Kin Obtain medical records of the Deceased
In Other Words: TheForensic Death Investigator is the “Eyes and Ears” of the Forensic Pathologist
Goal:To conduct a thorough, independent, investigation of the circumstances surrounding a death to provide the Forensic Pathologist factual data to be used in conjunction with the examination findingsin order to reach a conclusion as to the Cause and Manner of Death
Types of Jurisdictions in Texas A) Medical Examiner B) Justice of the Peace
Medical Examiners Authority Texas ccp. Art.49.25 Death occurring outside of a hospital, within 24 hours of admission, or due to possible trauma or foul play. Death that occurs in custody Death of a child under age 6 Any death in which an attending physician is unable to certify as to the cause of death
Scene Investigation. Thorough examination of the scene seeking details or items that may be related to the death
Useful Information Medical History Medications and Container pharmacy, physician, amount filled, date filled,amount remaining Identification Documents
PhotographyPhotograph SurroundingsAnd Items that may bePertinent to the investigation
Exam of Body General description of body and clothing Assessment of trauma Post-mortem changes Blood evidence Physical and trace evidence Presence or absence of valuables
Rigor Mortis Starts in ½ to 1 hour at room temperature Peaks in approximately 12 hours Gradually declines after another 12 hours Can be affected by environment, antemortem activity, and drug use.
Livor Mortis “Pooling of the blood” Is “blanchable” at first then gradually becomes fixed. Can indicate if a body has been moved after death. Color can indicate possible CO poisoning
Decomposition Begins at death. Is strongly affected by environment. Is caused by action of body enzymes, and bacteria on tissue. Is slowed by immersion, burial, cold. 1 week in air = 2 weeks in water = 8 weeks in soil
Trace Evidence Preservation Bags on Hands, Feet ect…. Paper not Plastic Wrapping in clean white sheet Placement in transport pouch. Alerting Prosector if biological evidence is possibly present.
Identification Done on scene if situation permits. Otherwiseaccomplished at the TCME Office using Forensic methods
Types of IdentificationCircumstantialVisualForensic
Methods of Circumstantial IdentificationClothingJewelryPlace, Time, and/or Event
Methods of Visual Identification InPerson By Photograph Remote Viewing
Methods of Forensic Identification Dental X-Rays (Anthropologic) Fingerprints DNA
Position of the body Isit consistent with observed rigor, and lividity? Has the body been “posed”? Has the body been moves or dumped?
Autopsy Elements Examination of the scene Identification of the decedent External and internal examination Toxicological and histological studies Interviews with witnesses, doctors, etc. Evaluation of relevant records
Autopsy Findings Type of weapon used Consistency of wounds and evidence Determination of fatal wound Length of time of victim survival Post-injury abilities of decedent Whether body was dragged or dumped Vectors of applied force
Autopsy Purposes Establish cause and manner of death Identify, recover, and preserve evidence Provide factual, objective medical report Separate natural deaths from unnatural Provide interpretation and correlation of facts and circumstances
Cause Of Death Gunshot wound to head Transection of aorta due to stab wound Cardio-respiratory Arrest
Manner of Death Natural Accidental Homicide Suicide Undetermined
Services Provided by the Tarrant-Parker&Denton County Medical Examiners District Examination Identification (Forensic Odentologist) Toxicology Firearms examination Fingerprint Examination (In House AFIS) Questioned Document Examination
Conclusion TheMedicolegal Death Investigator gathers Facts , and acts as the liaison on the scene between the Law Enforcement Investigator, and the Forensic Pathologist. TheMedical Examiners Office is present to determine the cause and manner death
TheMedical Examiners Office can assist your investigation through the collection and scientific analysis of facts and evidence.