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tv   Dead Men Talking Trail of Evidence  MSNBC  December 10, 2011 10:00am-11:00am PST

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they have a special talent. teasing secrets from the dead. through autopsies and investigations, louisville kentucky medical examiner dr. tracey corey and her team decipher some mysterious deaths. >> the body is that of a normally developed, normally nourished white male. >> with rare access -- >> it is fractured. there's no question it's fractured. >> -- we'll show how coroners, medical examiners and death investigators -- >> there's a disk that normally goes in there. >> -- bring the truth to light. and they do it by letting the dead do the talking.
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>> the only way the victim can speak at that point is through the autopsy examination. that's really the last chance the victim has to speak. >> "dead men talking -- trail of evidence." february. it's midday and cold. a hunter and his dog are tracking game on deserted strip mining land southwest of louisville. >> buddy, here! buddy! >> suddenly, in the field, a scene from a horror movie. >> i stumbled up on a skeleton. there was a skull. in my heart i knew it was human. but you know, i didn't want to believe that. it definitely freaked me out, that's for sure. >> the skeleton is scattered throughout the abandoned mine. the bones are difficult to find.
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half hidden in the tall grass. for the police it's like a gruesome easter egg hunt. so the following morning, our cameras join deputy medical examiner dr. barbara weekly-jones, who is called in to help along with the four-legged members of their team, cadaver dogs. >> scattered remains in tall grass. >> the dogs are essential to this case. with their acute sense of smell they can trace bones that humans can't find. this may just look like a pile of bones stripped of identity. but any one of them could offer a vital clue and help to solve the riddle of how this person died. >> they don't know the exact identification. they suspect it's a female related to a drug deal, so we assume it's a homicide because she's out in the wilderness. >> also heading to the scene is kentucky state forensic anthropologist, dr. emily craig, a self-styled bone hunter. >> they found some bones still
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in a pair of blue jeans. a woman's blue jeans, i think they said. sassoon was the brand. >> craig is an expert in body parts and skeletal remains, who's worked on some of the most notorious cases of our times. she's reconstructed cult leader david koresh's skull at waco and proved that he died by a bullet wound to the head. she investigated the oklahoma city bombing and helped to identify victims of september 11th. >> barbara and i are going to go ahead. this is the time when you're getting close, adrenaline's starting to pump and you're starting to think back through your files. now, what do i remember about working a case like this? what am i going to forget? putting together a plan. >> the bones that had been found so far are marked with orange flags and the dogs are given their scent. >> find it, abbie, find it. >> dr. craig evaluates the condition of the bones. how bleached they are by the sun and whether they're covered in vegetation.
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clues as to just how long they've lain in the field. >> all you can see is the absolute tip of it. >> yeah, the grass has grown over it. >> time since death? i think with the foliage, overgrowth, and the condition of the bones, i don't think it's been more than just a couple of months. >> the bones are numbered in the order in which they're found. and bagged. the jeans are torn but most of the fabric still holds together. another indication of the passage of time. >> i'd say by the jeans and all, it was just this summer. >> they're determined to find the exact spot where the person died. a location that often provides a trove of essential clues. but it's proving difficult. the remains have been dispersed by wild animals. >> it should be right about here somewhere. what we're looking for here is the area of primary decomposition. there should be -- like the ground will be discolored. there will be -- should be variation in some of the upper
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vegetation. >> just at that moment, a large patch of gray hair is discovered further up the field. >> yeah, i'm going to get my microscope out. let me know if it's human. >> the scalp is sloughed off shortly after death. that not only helps us with identification, but it also gives us some clues as to the cause and manner of death. if it comes off en masse, then there was really no major head trauma. >> the scalp is intact and there are no blood stains, no sign of foul play. >> oh, here it is. this looks perfect. >> nearby they find what they've been searching for, the site of decomposition -- where the person died. >> if there had been signs of a struggle, if the plants were broken or the dirt had been dug up at all, we could tell that something had happened there. >> oh, yeah, that's what we're looking for. see the discoloration? decomposed on top of the grass so it had to have been this summer. >> in some cases it's at the decomposition site that bullets are found or i.d.s that fell out
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of wallets or even teeth that fall out quickly and can be matched to dental records. but here there's no valuable evidence. >> it's like a drop in the pond. you find the central place and then everything else will spread out. usually pretty evenly from that one location. and that's exactly what we're finding. >> a confusing collection of i.d.s with variations on a unisex name has been found at a make-shift camp nearby. the mystery deepens. dr. craig takes a look at the skull first found by the hunter and throws a curveball into the investigation. >> i can tell immediately it's a male. he's got a huge brow ridge. even though the pants may have been from -- ladies pants, he was most likely wearing ladies pants. >> and i knew immediately that it was not a female. the brow ridge told me that it was male. and the nose basically told me that it was caucasian. all night long they'd been combing their missing persons files for missing females.
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and then all of a sudden they could start looking at missing persons files on white males. >> and the skull yields another vital clue. >> this looks fresh. boy, oh, boy, guys. it is fractured. there's no question it's fractured. oh, oh, oh, look. we got more fracture. >> oh, yeah it does. >> it looked as if he may have died from blunt force trauma. a blow or several blows on the skull. because not only was it the large defect here, there was a little place here on the cheek that was broken. >> death by possible blunt force trauma. in layman's terms, this may be a case of cold-blooded murder. a fractured skull. a woman's pants. multiple i.d.s. this case is just beginning. >> i'll go plug this into the computer, see what we've got. has is such a blessing. not financially. so we switched to the bargain detergent,
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authorities have gathered the human bones found scattered throughout an abandoned strip mine in rural kentucky. they've also collected a perplexing array of evidence. women's pants. unisex i.d.s. and a male skull fractured in several places. signs point to a possible murder. the victim unknown. dr. emily craig, a forensic anthropologist for the state of kentucky, will take the investigation to the next step. trying to find out who the victim was and why he died. >> first two cervical vertebrae. >> she calls her lab a forensic mall. it's an emporium of state of the art, scientific tools that will help her mine the secrets of the bones. >> okay.
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>> each bone was given a number at the scene. in the order in which it was found. >> we've got 17 through 25. >> in the lab, dr. craig recreates the skeleton. based on a tentative identification from a driver's license found at the scene. the owner of the license cannot be found. and no one has reported him missing. police detective whitaker is standing by, hoping for some answers. now the skeleton will tell its story. from it, dr. craig will build a biological profile. sex, age, race, height, and time of death. she'll see if her profile matches the details on the driver's license. >> the bones that are most specific for determining someone's sex are the skull and the pelvis. in this one i could tell it was a male because it had a very heavy brow ridge. the jaw was very square. >> and, she says, the nose ridge
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indicates that this was most likely a white male. the skeleton also reveals the person's age at the time of death. >> i could tell immediately that it was an adult because all along his back, there were growths and overgrowths and actually some of the bones were fused. which is a characteristic of people that usually are over 40. >> now for his height. >> the guy we found his i.d., how tall is he? 5'9"? >> to estimate the height of the victim she measures his femur, the thigh bone. >> you can measure the femur on just about every individual if you know their race and their sex, and get an estimated stature. we're 5'9." i'll go plug this into the computer and see what we've got. okay, let's see how tall he was. >> the driver's license says the man is 5'9." the computer calculates a close match. >> the good news is he's reported at 5'9" and ours says reported at 5' 9" and ours says 5' 8 1/2."
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>> dr. craig goes on to examine the clothing found at the scene. it is shredded in places and badly torn, possibly by wild animals. she looks at the women's jeans recovered from the site. >> there was a lot of animal activity. so i think most of the shredding is probably from that. no pockets. and this -- the fabric feels a little more fragile than just a couple months. so july, august might be about right. because this is -- it just shreds. i was trying to determine if those tears were perhaps from a knife or from animal activity. and i was able to determine that all of it was from animal activity. >> she works methodically, like a code breaker deciphering enigmatic evidence. she notices that the skeleton's back bones are highly unusual. there are unique growths on his vertebrae that developed as he aged. >> so this is unique?
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>> unique to him. normally they're real smooth. but all these little overgrowths, they would show up on x-ray. yeah. there's a disk that normally goes in there. but these connect. so that would show up on x-ray. if he's got them, that will be key. >> it's a man on the driver's license has the name abnormalities, dr. craig may be one step closer to an identification. old medical records could provide the answer. >> this one's broken. and the rest of these, these are just -- that's simply chewed. >> she also examines closely this critical piece of evidence. the skull. there's a hairline fracture between the eyes, one across the nose, and a hole in the cheek. in the field dr. craig saw the possibility of foul play. but in the cold light of the lab -- >> i just don't think that's a fresh fracture. i see signs of healing around the top. he's got a nose fracture that shows signs of healing also.
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he's probably seen a physician for that. that's a pretty severe lick. >> she concludes those fractures were old, healed-over wounds from the victim's past. not the cause of death. but the next fracture looked like it hasn't healed. >> i was able to tell for certain that that injury between his eyes was an old injury. the injury on his cheek was postmortem. and there really was no evidence of injury that would be attributed to a fatal traumatic event. >> the skull is cut and x-rayed in the hopes of finding more clues. the x-ray so far doesn't reveal anything significant. >> there's no bullet or obvious injuries or anything like that. we've got a good sinus pattern here. like i said, if he had saw a doctor and got his skull x-rayed for that injury, it's possible
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to make a positive i.d. just from that. >> in fact at the local hospital the coroner finds c.a.t. scans taken four years ago of the man in the driver's license. ghostly images of his skull. they show the same injury visible on the skull found in the field. that fracture was not new. >> we found out that he did have sinus problems and so it could have been an injury that he'd sustained years ago and just had never quite healed. >> and x-rays of his unusual spine also were found at a local hospital. they're important evidence if they match dr. craig's findings on the vertebrae recovered in the field. dr. craig compares them, then reaches her conclusion. the unique overgrowth exists on each. they're a match. >> we identified this individual by x-rays of his back that were taken several years before he died. and the x-rays of his back showed the same fusion and overgrowth that helped us determine age.
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and it was an exact match. >> the puzzle is solved. the remains belong to enoch terry embree. he was 59 years old and last seen several months before the bones were found. a family member confirmed that embree had lost a lot of weight during a recent illness and could fit into the small pants. he was homeless and wore whatever came his way. but how did he die? >> putting all of those pieces together -- the scene and the actual examination of the bones -- we were able to tell that it was -- it was probably not due to a violent event. because there was -- there was absolutely no skeletal evidence of injury. >> even science doesn't have the exact answer. because there are so few remains, how he died may never be known. >> in the evidence that we found, we could not pinpoint a cause and manner of death. now, that does not rule out heart attack, poisoning, you know, any kind of injury that could have affected just the
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soft tissue. >> the solitary death of a homeless man. barely anyone noticed. a stark contrast to a case that would send the medical examiner's office into overdrive. coming up -- a violent fire. a family engulfed in flames. the medical examiner's office looking for answers. my doctor told me calcium is best absorbed in small continuous amounts. only one calcium supplement does that in one daily dose.
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i try not to think about the actual tragedy of the event. of course as a human you're always going to eventually think of that.
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>> shortly before 4:00 a.m., a fire raged unstoppable through a small one-story house southeast of louisville, quickly trapping ten people inside an inferno. by the time emergency workers arrive, all ten are dead. among the victims, six children. it was the deadliest fire in kentucky in 30 years. coroners from surrounding counties converge on the scene to help retrieve bodies. >> we don't know what's happened. we have to treat it like a crime scene. there's no question about that. >> get information from him as far as the ages. >> the scope of the tragedy is so great, that it brings chief medical examiner tracey corey out of the autopsy room and into the field. although it's rare for her to go to death scenes, this emergency requires extra help and her medical expertise. she will help uncover what
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exactly happened in those terrible final minutes in that house. first the victims are sketched and photographed to show their position and location. then they're removed from the house. while she's working, dr. corey notices a distraught man hurrying toward the charred remains at the house. he just learned that his 2-year-old twins died in the fire. dr. corey moves to stop him, to convince him to stay away. >> my goal at that point was to get in between him and the house. because i didn't want him to see his loved ones there in the house. that wouldn't do him any good. it wouldn't do the investigators any good. and it would only probably increase his shock and grief at that point. >> after dr. corey's assurances, he agrees to back away. >> i promised him that i would take good care of them, that i was a mother myself. >> it's the toughest, most unscientific part of her job. dealing with families.
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>> i think that i have a greater appreciation, a greater empathy for the parents in that -- in those situations. being a parent myself. we all make personal associations. all of us do, whether we want to or not. >> her career spans years of seeing the consequences of painful deaths. but she says some cases haunt her like no others. >> one of the toughest cases in the long run, for me, was the case of the camm children who were killed in southern indiana. >> it was a notorious case. in 2000 a former indiana state trooper named david camm shot to death his wife and two children. >> it was -- can i stop for a second? wow, that came out of nowhere. >> it's a rare crack in her professional veneer. dr. corey tries to regain control but then need to take a break to compose herself. what was especially disturbing for dr. corey in that case was the killer left one of his
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children to die a long, excruciating death. >> the little boy's wounds were not immediately lethal or would not result in immediate unconsciousness. and i knew that. i had two little boys of my own at the time. and so there was a personal connection. >> by the afternoon, the ten fire victims are in the medical examiner's office for the autopsy. dr. corey sees beyond the remains. >> bless her little heart. until you do the autopsy you don't know. many times, people who kill other people may try to cover up that crime. by starting a fire. i talked to him briefly at the scene. >> dr. corey works with calm dispatch on the fire victims, focusing on i.d.'ing the bodies
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through family record. >> any history of any dentist whatsoever? ask them if they've had ever had sinus films, if they had a bad sinus infection. >> her goal is to complete the ten fire autopsies that same day, no matter how long it takes, so they can release the bodies to the families for funerals. >> here's where you want to write it, kyra, see there? like that. >> dr. corey reaches her conclusion. she finds soot in the airway of the fire victims, which means there was no foul play. they all were alive when the fire broke out. later, a fire investigation determines the official cause -- a cigarette left burning near a couch. but the family says no one was smoking. through dedication and teamwork, dr. corey and her colleagues accomplish their goal. they finish all the fire autopsies before evening, enabling the families to recover the bodies of their loved ones quickly.
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but there's little time to rest. there are other cases waiting. other mysteries to solve. coming up -- a chilled corpse. a house seemingly turned upside down. is it a murder/robbery or something else entirely? [ gasps ] [ male announcer ] if you're giving an amazing gift, shouldn't it be given in an amazing way? ♪ ♪ the lexus december to remember sales event is here, but only for a limited time. see your lexus dealer for exclusive lease offers on the 2012 es 350 and, as a gift from lexus, we'll make your first month's payment. see? he's taking his vitamins. new one a day vitacraves plus omega-3 dha is a complete multivitamin for adults. plus an excellent source of omega-3 dha in a great tasting gummy. one a day, gummies for grown-ups.
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msnbc now. i'm alex witt. an estimated 5,000 people taking part in the stand for freedom rally this afternoon in new york city. organizers say they're there to protest new restrictive voter i.d. laws that appoements say amount to an attack on voters. and police arrested 46 in new york city. i'm alex witt. more news later.
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a man is found dead in his house. he's laying on the couch, his eyes are wide open. >> is he told to the couch? >> yeah, he's cold to the touch. >> has he been sick or anything? >> no, not that i know of. >> a man is found dead in his house. it's a freezing february day. still, the front door is left propped open with a phone book. louisville, kentucky coroner ron holmes and deputy coroner r.g. jones have been summoned to the house. their job is to examine and control the body at the scene. the home is in disarray.
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garbage litters the living room. >> there's no heat in the house, had been no heat in the house for the past four months. there's no visible trauma to the body that we can tell. >> the man's name was john whitehouse. his friends tell the coroners that whitehouse's wallet is missing. so is his social security check. police find his wallet hidden behind the sofa cushion. it's empty. >> there's no money in there. he had a history of frequenting prostitutes who would come into the house. he would always draw out a lot of money the first part of the month. >> neighbors have told the coroners that the prostitutes were drug addicts. >> did you look in the medicine cabinet? >> six bottles of medication are missing too. the circumstances of this death look increasingly suspicious. the coroners head over to his mother's house.
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it's a tough part of their job, dealing with grieving families. >> she still needed comforting. and she still needed somebody to talk with her in a human and kind way. and i think -- i think we did that. >> the coroners have told mrs. whitehouse that an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of her son's death. she's left to inform other family members. his son willie hears the news from his grandmother. he's anxious to know how his father died. an autopsy may give him the answers he seeks.
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>> i'm just hoping maybe they can find out what had happened and why it happened. just to get closure, basically. >> whitehouse's body has been brought here to louisville's morgue, where the kentucky chief medical examiner, dr. tracey corey, will perform the autopsy. >> we're looking for evidence of petechial hemorrhages. >> she's assisted by a medical student and a technician. as she proceeds, dr. corey dictates her findings into a recorder. >> body identified as john whitehouse. exterior of the body, body is that of a normally developed, normally nourished white male. appearing somewhat older than the given age of 55 years. >> dr. corey, a forensic pathologist, is one of only a handful of women who are state chief medical examiners in the u.s. she's a consummate professional,
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all business. but even in this charged atmosphere, ordinary life trickles in. >> interior of the body. y-incision carried through a midline measuring up three centimeters. miscellaneous ligature into an abdominal cavity and containing approximately 100 milliliters of clear yellow-pink fluid, period. did you watch the super bowl? >> mm-hmm. >> did you, brian? >> i watched a couple of minutes of it. i'm not a very big football fan. >> they're dealing with so much death, and everyday banter is one way they keep sane. >> i watched just a little bit of it. >> i expected the colts to win. i turned the channel, they were way up. >> dr. corey knows the autopsy is essential to this investigation. it's up to her to determine how whitehouse died. and if there was foul play. >> he's got a very, very, very
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large heart. here is his cardiac silhouette. look at that. i mean, it takes up that whole chest space. huge heart. >> it doesn't take long to find the first clue. >> he's got pericardial adhesions too. oh, my goodness. look at that. >> he's got a huge heart. >> yeah. normal heart should weigh about 350 grams. since he's a relatively small person, i would expect his heart to weigh somewhere around -- normally around 300, 325. and to be about the size of a fist. the heart weighs 800. 800. >> but the heart is not the only medical problem she encounters.
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>> he's got disease right here. see that? his lungs feel like he may have pneumonia going on, too. although his death is considered sudden and unexpected, really when we get in and see all the disease he has, he was not a well man. on the death certificate page, part one, atherosclerotic coronary artery disease. part two, hypertensive heart disease. under manner, natural. end of dictation, thank you. >> dr. corey is confident she knows the cause of death. >> certainly the man had significant natural disease. very significant heart disease. his heart weighed more than twice normal. he certainly has enough natural disease to account for his death. and although this was considered a sudden, unexpected death, and that's why he came in to be examined here, once we get in there, we really see that he had a lot of chronic problems. i'm sure he did not feel very
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well during the last few weeks of his life. >> circumstantial evidence may have pointed to foul play. but it turns out john whitehouse died of natural causes. as for the missing money and medication, seasoned coroner dr. ron holmes has his own theory. >> the front door was never locked. he had prostitutes in all the time. everybody in the neighborhood knew he had money the first part of the month. two or three days later, all the money's gone. looks to me like somebody came in to see if they could beg, borrow or steal, found him dead, just cleaned him out. >> in five years on the job, he's seen all manner and type of death. it's a profession that takes internal strength and a strong stomach. in this case, he's candid about his struggle to feel empathy for the victim. >> i should. you know, i should. but many victims by their own behavior bring about themselves being victimized. did he deserve it? well, he died of natural causes.
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so he would have done that had he been in -- lived in a different part of town. but it's hard to feel as sorry. that's my honest, honest feeling. >> but there are other cases that are more emotional, that make a death investigator's job difficult. coming up -- a drowning in a near-frozen lake. a somber investigation. ce? no problem. you want to save money on rv insurance? no problem. you want to save money on motorcycle insurance? no problem. you want to find a place to park all these things? fuggedaboud it. this is new york. hey little guy, wake up! aw, come off it mate! geico. saving people money on more than just car insurance. you feel it working, so you know you're ready for whatever the day brings. compared to ordinary toothpaste,
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it's a frigid february sunday. church services have just ended at louisville evangel world prayer center. and the congregation is sharing a communal meal in a crowded hall. no one notices when edwin, only 3, slips away from his grandmother. jorge is a church pastor. >> translator: when the grandma was done getting the food and she didn't see him, she said, where is edwin? she started to look for him. >> but he was nowhere to be found. >> translator: she saw the ducks which were moving a lot. then she saw him there. floating in the water. >> ducks on the pond. irresistible to a curious toddler. >> translator: here you could see the ice broken, cut. the child was floating there in the water. >> a church-goer administered cpr, but it was too late.
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a tragedy in the span of only five minutes. any unexpected death such as that of a healthy child is investigated by authorities. the toddler is brought to the kentucky medical examiner's office. deputy medical examiner dr. bill ralston will perform the autopsy. >> once we've done that, then we begin with the interior. >> a forensic pathologist with five years of experience, he's the only man among the five medical examiners in this office. he needs to determine the cause of death. autopsies won't show whether a victim was pushed into the water or fell in. but it's standard practice to look for signs of foul play that may have occurred before the victim was found in the water. >> ready? the working diagnosis was drowning. there are no real tests for drowning. i can't send blood to the lab
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and it come back and something be high or low and that's an indication of drowning. so drowning is basically a diagnosis of exclusion. >> as part of her training, a medical student observes the autopsy. >> just because we do an autopsy doesn't mean you can't have an open casket. which is always a big concern with families. in a case like this, this child would obviously be able to have had an open casket visitation. all the incisions we make will be covered by clothing. >> the mood in the autopsy room is noticeably somber. the staff subdued. >> it definitely is different. when children are involved. we realize that they have a long life in front of them. and it's definitely -- in terms of emotional trauma, it's definitely more difficult to perform autopsies on children. the mood does shift a little bit just among everybody. and we begin to become a little
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bit more focused. >> the case hits home for dr. ralston. he's the father of two. one of them the same age as the victim. >> bloody fluid is present within the left chest space. i know what my 3-year-old can and can't do and her emotional reactions and her response to pain and fright. and so it obviously brings it a little bit closer to home in terms of what may have -- this child's final moments may have been. >> still, he maintains his professional composure. he has a job to do and a duty to the victim's family and to the investigators. >> we're doing a service to a number of people by telling them the final story. then beyond that, it makes you just appreciate life. because you realize how fragile we truly are. >> in this case, the autopsy
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reveals the victim was healthy when he fell into the pond. >> inverted "v." that's the vocal cords, right? you're looking for that. when you see the inverted "v," you know you're good. given the history of being found in a body of water, we will say that the findings are consistently with drowning. provided everything else comes back within normal limits. >> the conclusion, death by drowning. and given the circumstances uncovered by investigators, it was determined to be just a heart-breaking accident. coming up -- the conclusions of modern science are more exact than ever. but the autopsy, a procedure used to investigate mysterious deaths, is an ancient technique. >> you know, we can develop cts and mris and all these neat tools that can help us. but the gold standard will always be the standard "y" incision and the actual physical
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as we've seen, medical examiners and coroners investigate deaths from accidents or natural causes or murder. the deaths of the most innocent, most beloved, the forgotten. ♪ ♪ >> medical examiners then have a topsy-turvy world where the
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witness talks, but has no voice, where doctors are caring, but hold out no hope. their mission is to search for the truth and they do it with the help of up-to-the-minute forensic technology, working in hand emcan a centuries-old procedure, the autopsy. >> the basic procedure is pretty much the same and i don't think that will ever change. >> it's a technique that louisville kentucky medical examiner dr. tracy curry relies upon upon to establish a cause of death in an investigation and we'll show you exactly how it's done. every autopsy follows a similar pattern. first, the body is photographed to help create a permanent record of the evidence. >> this is tracy dictating -- >> and dr. curry dictates her findings for the file. >> the name of the game for this job is document, document, document. we don't know where that case is going to be. we don't know what questions
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will be asked next week, next month, next year. >> autopsy begins with four different exterminations of the body. >> we note jewelry, clothing, pocket contents and at that point we can collect trace evidence as needed, checking hairs from the person's hand or fibers off of the clothing, things like that. >> the body is received with the hands in paper bags. the paper bags are removed from the hands. >> in a murder case, the body arrives with bad hands to preserve evidence that might be lodged under the nails. >> possibly scratched off in a struggle. >> that's when we'll do fingernail scrapings and fingernail clippings and gunshot residue tests and things like that. >> one of the things that's very important in forensic pathology is looking for and properly
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collecting trace evidence. those may link the victim back to a particular location, a particular house or apartment or car. >> moving on to the second examination, dr. caret and technician note the external details of the body to help identify the deceased. >> the body is of that a normally developed, normally nourished female around the given age of 18 years. we examine the body head to toe looking for general characteristics. >> the hair is normal texture and varies up to greater than 6 inches in hair length. >> eye color, teeth. >> jewelry consists of the following items. >> the third external examination records any medical treatment the person has received, cpr, for example. >> have we seen his wound yet? >> one of the fourth focuses on the injuries. >> oh -- gunshot wounds to the head we usually describe those in reference to the -- to the
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ear. >> 5/16 inch parenthesis, horizontally. >> generally with wounds to the torso we do those how many inches above the heel and we're using stable anatomic landmarks. >> the circular penetrating gunshot wound. >> the appearance of a gunshot wound can help dr. quarry estimate the distance where the gun was fired. >> contact wounds where the gun was held against the skin surface looks significantly different than from several feet away. >> it's important physical evidence for police investigators who are interviewing eyewitnesses and suspects. soot or smoke emerge from a gun, along with the bullet. >> those things travel variable distances. what i look for on the skin surface is a presence of that soot which will tell me that the gun was relatively close, a close-range wound. >> she shows what's called stipelling or tattooing which is
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when the burn and burning gunpowder particles strike the skin surface and create little injuries. we'll call this intermediate range. >> she tries to estimate the path of a projectile through the booed pep. >> scalp demonstrates a one-quarter inch, roughly circular gunshot wound of entrance on the right side which would, again, be consistent with the shooter being in the backseat, kind of in the middle. any bullets are retrieved as evidence. >> there's that one. >> one down. >> in cases where a different kind of weapon was used, there may be a distinctive mark, almost like a photographic negative. some bruises will show patterns where we can tell something about the object that caused it and some bruises will show very distinct patterns that can be linked back to a particular item. >> next, she moves on to the internal examination.
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a variety of tools, knives, saws and shears are used. an incision in the shape of a letter y is made from a shoulder area down to the breastbone and then to the pubic bone. the ribs are removed to allow a clear view of the heart and lungs. >> all right. the major organs are removed and tissue samples are examined for signs of natural disease that may have contributed to a death. next, dr. quarry examines the stomach and its contents to help establish a possible cause like a poisoning, for example, but also a time of death. if it's empty, it's been some time since the the victim ate a meal. next, the skull is opened and the brain dissected. fluids such as blood and urine ircollected to be tested at a toxicology lab for disease, alcohol or drus. >> sometimes the fluid from the eye can be more accurate than
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the fluid that's in the bloodstream. we can see patterns of salt poise ong, dehydration, renal failure based on the fluid in the eye. organs are replaced in the body cavity which is sewn up. the autopsy is over, but the investigation has just begun. >> i have to get all of the pieces of the puzzle. i have to get all of the test results come back to me and then i have to re-examine the case with fresh eyes and say how did these different things tie in? >> for forensic investigators like dr. cory and her team all deaths are treated the same, whether it's that of an innocent child or a forgotten homeless man. it is the search for the ultimate truth, a search, they say which is grounded in reverence for a life once lived and a person once loved. ♪ ♪


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