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  1. #1

    What Do the Bodies Tell Us?

    Because Ausgirl began this discussion in the Timeline thread , I'm starting a new thread in order to continue the discussion.

    Surely, lividity and rigor mortis are helpful in determining ToD, as I believe we'll all agree. However, I don't believe (and neither did Peretti) that these things alone are sufficient to determine ToD. That's why the ToD is so hard to determine in this case.

    Another complication, IMO, is the place of death - the scene of the crime. IMO, the murders didn't occur at the discovery site. I believe that there is information to support my opinion.

    First, in Bryn Ridge's testimony at the Misskelly trial , we find the following exchange:

    FOGLEMAN: Detective RIDGE in, when the, when Michael and Stevie and Chris were found what were the, their positions in the water?

    RIDGE: Okay Michael Moore was laying on his left side facing Memphis. (Since Michael's body was dislodged, his position could have been altered.)

    FOGLEMAN: Okay.

    RIDGE: Okay Steve Branch was laying face down, his face, chest and knees actually touching the ground on the bottom of the ditch. And Christopher Byers was in the same position, face down.


    Additionally, the coroner's report tells us:

    Body #1 (This is Michael Moore's body)
    <snipped>
    Body lying on side lividity in buttocks and back will blanch with pressure
    Rigor is set but can not tell to what degree due to limbs being tied body placed in sheet and transported

    Body #2 (This is Steven Branch's body)
    <snipped>
    Lividity in left buttocks and back will blanch with pressure
    Rigor is set but can not tell to what degree due to limbs being tied Body placed in sheet and transported

    Body #3 (This is Christopher Byers' body)
    <snipped>

    Lividity in buttocks and back will blanch with pressure
    Rigor is set but can not tell to what degree due to limbs being tied
    Body placed in sheet and transported
    All three bodies show signs of post mortem staining in face and chest.
    BBM

    This testimony and information is important because this site tells us the following:

    It is worth noting that lividity begins to work through the deceased within thirty minutes of their heart stopping and can last up to twelve hours. Only up to the first six hours of death can lividity be altered by moving the body. After the six hour mark lividity is fixed as blood vessels begin to break down within the body. BBM

    IMO, what the above information indicates is that the bodies were moved within six hours of death. The lividity in the buttocks indicates that the boys died on their backs. However, Ridge's testimony indicates that they were found face down, hence the "post mortem staining in face and chest" mentioned in the coroner's report. I don't know if this information helps us determine ToD, but, IMO, it explains the lack of blood at the discovery site - they were killed elsewhere!

  2. #2
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    Hm. The coroner was examining the bodies some time after they were removed from the ditch, though, so if lividity wasn't set when they were removed it could have shifted in the hours between moving and examination... What I'd want to know is whether there was evidence of lividity in both places at the -time of discovery- and I don't think there was, or nobody documented it?

    And this is WHY people were so annoyed that all the bodies were moved, without proper and careful examination and documentation. Michael's couldn't be helped, since that cop was already sploshing around in the crime scene and found it thereby.. But so much more could have been ascertained, if they'd left the bodies in place and done a more careful crime scene investigation...

    So much useful information was lost forever.

    I think the concept that the boys were killed elsewhere is a good thing to want to examine. I don't have a firm suspect to try to fit that evidence to, however. But in itself, it's a theory well worth exploring.

    I'm just not sure the lividity is a good bit of proof in favour of it, yet.
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  3. #3
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    The lividity in the buttocks indicates that the boys died on their backs. However, Ridge's testimony indicates that they were found face down, hence the "post mortem staining in face and chest" mentioned in the coroner's report.
    Sorry, just to address this particular bit..

    ALL lividity is 'post mortem staining' - it doesn't happen at all until after death (except in a few circumstances not related to this case). the bodies were still blanching under pressure, so lividity was not set at time of discovery.

    As to which to which set of lividity marks happened first -- I haven't found anything conclusive on that yet. What I do know, as I said above, is that the boys were removed from the water some hours before they were examined, and so I'd really like to know who observed what regarding lividity -at time of discovery- which I think would offer us a more accurate pov on what came first (if we can't find docs regarding that) and what, if any, movement of lividity occurred post-discovery.

    I do note, though, that in Michael "Lividity was present, minimal and fixed on the posterior surface of the body except in areas exposed to pressure". the 'Minimal and fixed' part could for sure indicate he was on his back for a time - but what position was he in at time of discovery? we don't know.. however, if all three had facial staining, that says Micheal was probably face down as well. I don't think the cops would have placed him in that position on the bank.

    eta: and ofc this would all be utterly moot, if the water in the boys' lungs was proven to be the same body of water in which they drowned. I don't think that whole diatom testing thing was around in 1993?
    Last edited by Ausgirl; 11-29-2013 at 09:19 PM.
    _____________
    Everything I have posted at this website, past or present, represents my opinion or my understanding of events based on facts that are publicly available.

  4. #4
    Sadly, they didn't test the water in the lungs. As to the facial and chest staining, that couldn't have happened on the bank because the bodies were all three placed on their sides and then on their backs when recovered. So, IMO, the facial staining had to be prior to discovery.

    So, the real question is, "Could the posterior lividity have been caused after recovery of the bodies?" The boys' bodies were discovered at about 1:30 pm and placed on the bank around that time. The coroner was called at 3:30 pm, a scant two hours later. So, I could see the facial staining as post-recovery if the bodies had been placed face down - but they weren't!

    ETA: I guess I should have mentioned that, IMO, the wording of the coroner's report implies that the lividity on the buttocks was darker (hence older) than the facial and chest staining. So, I'm understanding that to imply that the boys died on their backs and were moved and placed face down less than six hours after death.

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    Coming back to this thread for a moment, mainly to think out loud... not really giving an opinion, just mulling things through.

    The one question that recurs in my mind most frequently in this thread atm is perhaps the most obvious one -- WHY bother hiding the bodies in the water?

    Why not just leave them where they fell? The way the bodies were hidden says --something-- and I'd like to explore what that is.

    And I reserve the right to argue with myself.

    Drowning is a passive way of killing, which is really at odds with the violence. If the boys had not had such horrific head injuries as to be near fatal, I'd be saying 'hey, maybe there was a male -and- female killer', because drowning a child is a very female thing to do, under the mistaken belief that it's a 'kind' way to kill.

    I tend to think, though, that the killer thought they were already dead, or close enough to it and didn't care, so simply disposed of the 'bodies'.

    There's something about the way the bodies were tied -- perhaps simply to keep limbs from floating up, who knows -- and the boys pushed face down in the mud, the clothes pushed down in the mud with sticks..

    Something there makes me wonder if this is WHY military veterans were among the first people to be targeted for questioning by police. Hiding bodies is a necessity in some battle situations, both friendly and enemy bodies, so were there elements of the crime that mimicked some military protocol for that?

    Perhaps the killer was already aware, via their own crimes or being around people who'd committed similar crimes, that water + evidence = an awesome combination if you want to get away with murder. And he knew where the bikes would be, so threw them in the water to prevent the bodies being found too soon.

    Maybe it was an act of shame -- the water, in place of other 'covering' materials -- like, once the rage wore off, there were three dead and fatally injured kids, and the killer in a panicked and horrified state tried to 'undo' his guilt by removing the boys and any sign of their presence from his own sight. Like they never existed..

    Maybe he was hoping to be able to come back and visit them some time. It could have been part of fantasy. But surely nobody's that stupid to believe they would not be discovered. But hey, it's Davian Baldwin country, and being quick on the draw is optional. Well yeah, but that's a pretty poor point of argument here, Aus.
    '
    Socks. There were missing socks, right? Socks in their mouths. Or undies, used as gags to keep the screams being heard. Taken away by the killer as trophies. Points of close personal contact he could enjoy later..

    The thing with sadists is? It's not about sex. It's all about the suffering and sense of control, that's the actual sex for a sadist. That's why they take trophies, the body isn't important once it's dead (unless ofc they're a 'knickerphiliac') - it's the idea, and the memory, of suffering that turns them on.

    But how much did the boys actually suffer? Was one boy killed quickly, to keep the other two in line? Or was it a simple case of head injury/rage murder, and acts of necessity to follow?

    I need some lunch, and I'll have a think about that too.
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    Everything I have posted at this website, past or present, represents my opinion or my understanding of events based on facts that are publicly available.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ausgirl View Post
    Coming back to this thread for a moment, mainly to think out loud... not really giving an opinion, just mulling things through.

    The one question that recurs in my mind most frequently in this thread atm is perhaps the most obvious one -- WHY bother hiding the bodies in the water?

    Why not just leave them where they fell? The way the bodies were hidden says --something-- and I'd like to explore what that is.
    It could have been done in an attempt to wash away the evidence. It could also have been done to prevent discovery so the killer could give himself time to establish an alibi and/or dispose of other evidence. It could also be because they were killed in another location that could have implicated the killer specifically, so they were moved to this new, more neutral location.


    I tend to think, though, that the killer thought they were already dead, or close enough to it and didn't care, so simply disposed of the 'bodies'.
    I think this was the case as well. It seems to me that if they had been intentionally drowned, while very much alive, there would be much more evidence of drowning(larger amounts of water in the lungs and stomachs).

    There's something about the way the bodies were tied -- perhaps simply to keep limbs from floating up, who knows -- and the boys pushed face down in the mud, the clothes pushed down in the mud with sticks..
    I'm definitely curious about why they were hidden in the water, but I'm even more curious about why they were tied up that way. I had never thought that it might be to prevent their limbs from popping up in the water. It doesn't seen to have been done as a form of restraint if you note the absence of evidence of much of a struggle.


    Socks. There were missing socks, right? Socks in their mouths. Or undies, used as gags to keep the screams being heard. Taken away by the killer as trophies. Points of close personal contact he could enjoy later..
    Weren't there underwear missing as well? Is it possible for these items to have been washed away? Or perhaps they were killed in a different location and these smaller items got lost in the move?





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    Quote Originally Posted by primitivefuture View Post
    Weren't there underwear missing as well? Is it possible for these items to have been washed away?
    Yes, and yes small articles of clothing are likely to get washed further down stream and/or get muddied or otherwise obscured to the point which they go overlooked. While it's certainly possible that any underwear and all but one sock were taken as trophies, it would be foolish to assume they couldn't have been left but gone unfound, particularly when we all agree the WMPD were far from world class investigators.

    As for the matter of drowning, the practical reasons you've all mentioned are all likely possibilities. There's also a potential theological reason though, as explained in this footnote from Of the Bloody Sacrifice and Matters Cognate:

    Yet one might devise methods of execution appropriate to the Weapons: Stabbing or clubbing for the Lance or Wand, Drowning or poisoning for the Cup, Beheading for the Sword, Crushing for the Disk, Burning for the Lamp, and so forth.
    Last edited by kyleb; 12-07-2013 at 12:04 AM.
    The Master said, "In archery we have something like the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself." Confucius, The Doctrine of the Mean, James Legge translation

    Failure is an opportunity. If you blame someone else, there is no end to the blame. Therefore the Master fulfills her own obligations and corrects her own mistakes. She does what she needs to do and demands nothing of others. Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell translation

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by primitivefuture View Post
    It could have been done in an attempt to wash away the evidence. It could also have been done to prevent discovery so the killer could give himself time to establish an alibi and/or dispose of other evidence. It could also be because they were killed in another location that could have implicated the killer specifically, so they were moved to this new, more neutral location.
    Yup and yup, to the first two points.

    I have a few reasons for questioning the moved bodies theory, as well as a few for supporting it... I wouldn't a mind dedicated thread to that topic, if it wasn't all about pushing a suspect based theory.

    Anyway. the againsts, as I see it, is that it was a good deal more fiddly and possibly risky as well to do what they did there, than it would be to drive the bodies and bikes to a bit of empty roadside and dump them there.

    Moving three bodies, three lots of belongings and two bikes in a hurry, full of adrenaline or coming down off it, covered in blood... If the victims were killed in somebody's home, I could see the need for it. Otherwise, it's a lot of effort and would take time, as well - I'm having trouble seeing anyone take that sort of risk, to achieve very little.

    The Mississippi river isn't all that far away, either... why not use that? Since he had the truck out anyway..

    If there was a much closer crime scene - where? And why was it incriminating enough to warrant going to all that trouble?


    Quote Originally Posted by primitivefuture View Post
    I think this was the case as well. It seems to me that if they had been intentionally drowned, while very much alive, there would be much more evidence of drowning(larger amounts of water in the lungs and stomachs).
    I was reading an article about how to tell if a person was struggling or not when put in the water.. must find that again, it was interesting. I think drowning wasn't an end in itself, though, primarily because of the head wounds, for which there is no doubt they were intentional acts of injury.

    Quote Originally Posted by primitivefuture View Post
    I'm definitely curious about why they were hidden in the water, but I'm even more curious about why they were tied up that way. I had never thought that it might be to prevent their limbs from popping up in the water. It doesn't seen to have been done as a form of restraint if you note the absence of evidence of much of a struggle.
    Yeah. I'm not convinced by the arguments it was all about carrying the bodies. I'm currently pondering that killer had to hide bodies fast, in very shallow water in a place that was sure to be searched sooner rather than later, and was dealing with the practicalities of that.

    Ofc I could be wrong.


    Quote Originally Posted by primitivefuture View Post
    Weren't there underwear missing as well? Is it possible for these items to have been washed away? Or perhaps they were killed in a different location and these smaller items got lost in the move?
    Dunno about washed away - that stream was very sluggish.. and wet socks are pretty heavy for water like that to carry 'em off. And the waterway was drained & dragged for evidence, IIRC. As to them being lost in a move - yeah, maybe. Or maybe the killer took 'em for whatever reason.
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    Everything I have posted at this website, past or present, represents my opinion or my understanding of events based on facts that are publicly available.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyleb View Post
    While it's certainly possible that any underwear and all but one sock were taken as trophies, It would be foolish to assume they couldn't have been left but gone unfound, particularly when we all agree the WMPD were far from world class investigators.
    I never assumed they couldn't have been left and gone unfound. Nor did I suggest they were taken as trophies. I don't imagine they were, but i can't say it's impossible because I wasn't there. Why do you keep throwing the word 'foolish' around? We're just trying politely to work through possibilities. I understand that you are certain of many things regarding this case that others are far from sure of. It's clear that you disagree with many theories of the murders. I have no problem with that, but you could try to be a bit more polite about it. Civility and the desire not to mince words are not mutually exclusive.


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    Quote Originally Posted by primitivefuture View Post
    I never assumed they couldn't have been left and gone unfound. Nor did I suggest they were taken as trophies.
    Nor did I suggest you've done either.

    Quote Originally Posted by primitivefuture View Post
    Why do you keep throwing the word 'foolish' around?
    I'm pretty sure I've only used that term once recently.


    Quote Originally Posted by primitivefuture View Post
    We're just trying politely to work through possibilities.
    So what's with the all the hostility towards me?
    The Master said, "In archery we have something like the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself." Confucius, The Doctrine of the Mean, James Legge translation

    Failure is an opportunity. If you blame someone else, there is no end to the blame. Therefore the Master fulfills her own obligations and corrects her own mistakes. She does what she needs to do and demands nothing of others. Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell translation


  11. #11
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    ah
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    Yet in reality I was complementing PF not being so presumptuous to imagine socks and underwear must have been taken from the scene simply because they weren't found, she just took it wrong.
    The Master said, "In archery we have something like the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself." Confucius, The Doctrine of the Mean, James Legge translation

    Failure is an opportunity. If you blame someone else, there is no end to the blame. Therefore the Master fulfills her own obligations and corrects her own mistakes. She does what she needs to do and demands nothing of others. Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell translation

  13. #13
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    So in reality - you were insulting ME?

    I'm at the point of just scrolling past all the BS and derailments. And here I go... /scroll


    PF - there's an exercise I've found useful in examining multiple-victim homicides, which is listing what the victims didn't have in common, like:

    -- Joe died of gunshot wounds. Bob and Bill were stabbed.

    -- Bob had a bag on his head, Joe and Bill did not.

    Multiple victims crimes can get really overwhelming with details, keeping track of who had what is hard all at once, and I've found this method good for getting a clear picture of it all, or at least raising some Very Good Questions. If you want to give it a shot with me, let me know. We could probably do it another thread, though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ausgirl View Post
    So in reality - you were insulting ME?
    No, even if you had insisted socks and underwear couldn't have been left at the scene and gone unfound, which you hadn't, that would've only been calling your argument foolish, and there's no reason to take such things personally. But in reality I commended your suggestion that socks and underwear might have been taken as trophies, then went on to do the same for PF's suggestion that such items might have washed away, and there's no reason anyone should've felt insulted by any of that.
    The Master said, "In archery we have something like the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself." Confucius, The Doctrine of the Mean, James Legge translation

    Failure is an opportunity. If you blame someone else, there is no end to the blame. Therefore the Master fulfills her own obligations and corrects her own mistakes. She does what she needs to do and demands nothing of others. Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell translation

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    By the way Ausgirl. best I've been able to tell Jean-Jacques Rousseau never actually suggested what is attributed to him in this image you posted but quickly removed.
    The Master said, "In archery we have something like the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself." Confucius, The Doctrine of the Mean, James Legge translation

    Failure is an opportunity. If you blame someone else, there is no end to the blame. Therefore the Master fulfills her own obligations and corrects her own mistakes. She does what she needs to do and demands nothing of others. Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell translation

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