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  1. #1
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    Autopsy Report, condition of the body, time of death: discuss here

    An autopsy was conducted on Cooper Harris June 19, 2014, the day after his death. It has been announced that although the Autopsy Report (AR) has been completed, only some of the information it contains has been released to the public at this point in the case. Sources cited below have stated that the AR will likely be released to the public at some point in the future, when the investigation is complete.

    The Medical Examiner (ME) has very likely identified an estimated time of death, based upon the circumstances, and the condition of the body at the time authorities responded to the scene. The estimated time of death from the ME has not yet been made public, but many have speculated as to how long Cooper had been deceased by the time authorities responded to the 911 call.

    Please use this thread to add to what is known about the autopsy report findings, as well as estimated time of death, and the condition of Cooper’s body at the time authorities responded. The purpose of this thread is for theorizing on time of death, and the nature of the criminal accusations of Cooper’s homicide as evidenced by the condition of Cooper’s body. Please add links to support statements.

    I’d like to ask posters to keep all posts here especially respectful and professional, and maintain a sense of decorum. Please refrain from posting emotion and hyperbole about the condition of the child’s body. Let’s keep the discussion factual and “clinical”, if that makes sense. In other words, let’s discuss the evidence and science, and refrain from sensationalism.

    The Autopsy Report details that have been released thus far include:

    1. Cooper’s injuries were consistent with death from hyperthermia

    2. Cooper’s death has been ruled a homicide by the Medical Examiner

    3. Cooper’s toxicology tests were negative for medications and substances such as sedatives

    4. Cooper had what may have been self-inflicted fresh scratches to his face that were recent/ not healed/ not scabbed

    5. Cooper had fresh abrasions to the back of his head that reports state were very recent, and not scabbed

    Links for 1-5 above:

    http://www.wfmynews2.com/story/news/...y-ga/11394937/

    http://wtvr.com/2014/07/10/cooper-ha...cology-report/

    http://www.myfoxal.com/story/2598774...b-county-child

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/nati...icle-1.1855937

    http://mdjonline.com/view/full_story...-court-at-1-30

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/10/justic...ath/index.html

    http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2014/im...nt.6-25-14.pdf

    Witnesses report the following from the scene where bystanders, law enforcement, and paramedics responded:

    1. Cooper was not breathing, and appeared to bystanders to be dead

    2. Cooper was noted to be in advanced rigor mortis, still in the seated position when placed on the hot pavement.

    3. Cooper’s face and exposed skin was discolored.

    4. Cooper’s eyes were partly open

    5. Cooper’s tongue was protruding thru his lips

    6. There was a very strong odor of decomposition in the car, even hours after the body was removed

    7. Detective Stoddard testified at the probable cause hearing for Ross Harris that he believed Cooper had died before noon on June 18, 2014.

    8. It is speculated that temperatures inside the car reached 140 degrees Fahrenheit, with outside temperatures in the 90’s F. A re-creation of the parking lot circumstances was conducted by LE using RH’s vehicle.

    Links for 1-8 above:

    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/breakin...dlers-d/ngQwF/

    http://mdjonline.com/view/full_story...-court-at-1-30

    http://hollywoodlife.com/2014/07/03/...cy-son-cooper/

    http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/201...aring_bri.html

  2. #2
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    We know that a small body achieves ambient temperature more quickly than a larger one. We know that the onset of rigor is faster under warm/ hot conditions. My question is "how much" faster, under hot conditions, up to 140 degrees fahrenheit?

    Det. Stoddard theorized Cooper may have been dead before noon (last seen alive at 9:30 am when RH pulled the car into the Home Depot parking lot). Could Cooper have been dead by 10:30-11:00 a.m.? From the description of the rigor, it was advanced, not in the early stages (ie, masseter muscle stiffness.)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigor_mortis

    In humans, it commences after about three to four hours, reaches maximum stiffness after 12 hours, and gradually dissipates from approximately 24 hours after death.[2
    The onset of rigor mortis is affected by the individual's age, sex, physical condition, and muscular build. Rigor mortis may not be perceivable in many infant and child corpses due to their smaller muscle mass.[4]
    Several factors also affect the progression of rigor mortis, and investigators take these into account when estimating the time of death. One such factor is the ambient temperature. When conditions are warm, the onset and pace of rigor mortis are sped up by providing a conducive environment for the metabolic processes that cause decay. Low temperatures, however, slow them down. Therefore, for a person who dies outside in frozen conditions rigor mortis may last several days more than normal, so investigators may have to abandon it as a tool for determining time of death.[6][7]

  3. #3
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    Thank you for starting this thread.

    Regarding: 2. Cooper’s death has been ruled a homicide by the Medical Examiner

    I never had knowledge of a ME before so I did a little research because I was curious as to how a ME determined homicide. Such as what type of evidence the ME would look for or need to find homicide. Found a nice article I'd like to share. Here is a snip from the article.

    "Note: Many people, including the media, confuse the terms homicide and murder. Murder is a criminal charge or the unlawful taking of a human life by another. After the medical examiner determines the manner of death to be a homicide, then law enforcement investigate that death to determine if there is probable cause to bring the criminal charge of murder against the person who caused the death. While all murders are homicides, not all homicides are murders. If a homeowner, fearful for his or her life, kills an intruder or a law enforcement officer kills someone in the line of duty, both are considered homicides but not necessarily murder."

    http://gbi.georgia.gov/medical-examiners-office

    Found this to be an informative read.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by K_Z View Post
    We know that a small body achieves ambient temperature more quickly than a larger one. We know that the onset of rigor is faster under warm/ hot conditions. My question is "how much" faster, under hot conditions, up to 140 degrees fahrenheit?

    Det. Stoddard theorized Cooper may have been dead before noon (last seen alive at 9:30 am when RH pulled the car into the Home Depot parking lot). Could Cooper have been dead by 10:30-11:00 a.m.? From the description of the rigor, it was advanced, not in the early stages (ie, masseter muscle stiffness.)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigor_mortis
    Thank you for this thread, K_Z!

    BBM, small detail but was Cooper actually seen alive in the HD parking lot? I thought the last sighting of him alive was at Chick Fil A. Did the HD security cameras capture images of Cooper alive in the car when RH parked?

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  5. #5
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    Oh the scratches and abrasions make my heart hurt

  6. #6
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    The "before noon" suggests to me that there were food particles that were able to be identified on Cooper's stomach.
    However, we have not been told if he had anything to eat between 6:30am and 9:00am, when he arrived at Chic Fil A.
    Assuming he ate at Chic Fil a, the ME was told what was consumed and was able to identify it, hence the time of death was 0-2 hours after leaving Chic Fil a.

    I have also heard that a child experiencing heat stroke would vomit, so in that case the stomach would be empty?

    I believe the next step in determining TOD is the eyes?
    Core temp is of no use in this case.
    Heat would advance the rigor mortis.
    I'm not sure about livor mortis.
    The swollen tongue suggests it was advancing quickly.
    I don't guess there was cadaveric spasm.

    What does Chic Fil a offer kids for breakfast?

    Oatmeal, yogurt cup, fruit, apple sauce, fries, fried chicken (nuggets, strips) broiled chicken nuggets, scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits... Milk, apple jucie , lemon ade
    http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Food/Menu...reakfast-Items

    http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Food/Menu-Section/Kids-Meal http://www.scopemed.org/?mno=40697

    "In present study the identifiable semi-digested food particle were found more commonly in those persons who died 0-2 hours after last meal, un-identifiable semi-digested food particle were found more commonly in those persons who died 2-6 hours after last meal and empty stomach were found more commonly in those persons who died more than 6 hours after last meal."
    ~ my opinion only

  7. #7
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    Great thread KZ

    I can't wait to come back and read it, so I'm marking my spot.
    Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean.
    We are all just trying to make sense of an unimaginable crime.

  8. #8
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    Good thread. Coming back, too.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by La Louve View Post
    Thank you for this thread, K_Z!

    BBM, small detail but was Cooper actually seen alive in the HD parking lot? I thought the last sighting of him alive was at Chick Fil A. Did the HD security cameras capture images of Cooper alive in the car when RH parked?
    You may be correct that the last verifiable time Cooper was alive was the Chick-Fil-A surveillance video. I don't think LE have said if Cooper was visible in any HD surveillance footage. IIRC, the drive from CFA to HD parking lot was brief-- I have a memory somewhere that the CFA video ended at 0917, and RH pulled into HD parking lot at 0930. But that is pure memory and may be wrong-- I don't have a link!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by gngr~snap View Post
    The "before noon" suggests to me that there were food particles that were able to be identified on Cooper's stomach.
    However, we have not been told if he had anything to eat between 6:30am and 9:00am, when he arrived at Chic Fil A.
    Assuming he ate at Chic Fil a, the ME was told what was consumed and was able to identify it, hence the time of death was 0-2 hours after leaving Chic Fil a.

    I have also heard that a child experiencing heat stroke would vomit, so in that case the stomach would be empty?
    Respectfully snipped. Very good thoughts about stomach contents (or lack thereof). Unfortunately, until we have the full Autopsy Report, we will not know what was found by the ME.

    I expect Cooper's AR will have many of the findings that are consistent with vehicular entrapment hyperthermic deaths:

    With brief survival these consist of serosal (pleural, epicardial, pericardial) and cerebral periventricular petechiae and pulmonary and/or cerebral edema. If survival is prolonged, measured in hours before death, laboratory, macroscopic, and histopathologic findings vary greatly and may consist of acute renal failure with rhabdomyolysis, acute tubular necrosis, and disseminated intravascular coagulation; hepatic failure with centrilobular necrosis; acute pancreatitis; pulmonary edema with diffuse alveolar damage; and cerebral edema with diffuse neuronal injury.51
    BBM.

    http://www.blnz.com/news/2008/04/23/...dity_3314.html

    Hepatocellular necrosis and disseminated intravascular coagulation were reported in victims who survived at least 6 hours after the hyperthermic exposure. The consistent postmortem finding among nearly all victims was intrathoracic petechiae, suggesting terminal gasping in an attempt at autoresuscitation before death.
    The postmortem findings vary and depend on the duration of survival after hyperthermic exposure. They include intrathoracic, cutaneous, and conjunctival petechiae; pulmonary and cerebral edema; visceral cellular degeneration and necrosis; and disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)
    BBM above.

    http://www.kidsandcars.org/userfiles...eath-study.pdf

    Intrathoracic petechiae are pinpoint hemorrhages inside the chest cavity due to a severe inspiratory effort (gasping).

    As the duration of exposure increases, endothelial damage occurs to the microvasculature and children may develop cutaneous signs of coagulopathy, including petechiae and purpura. Terminal hyperthermia results in cardiac arrhythmias and deep gasping.6-8 In a series of autopsies of children who died from vehicular hyperthermia, the most consistent finding was intrathoracic petechiae, presumed to be due to deep gasping.9 Although victims of heat stroke may progress to cerebral edema, multiorgan hemorrhage, and necrosis or rhabdomyolysis, these injuries are not believed to be present during acute heat stroke.9
    BBM for emphasis.

    http://www.jems.com/article/patient-...hermia-childre
    Last edited by K_Z; 07-23-2014 at 02:49 AM. Reason: typo


  11. #11
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    Regarding the fresh abrasions on the back of Cooper's head, I wanted to point out that he was placed on a very hot parking lot pavement, without any padding or insulation/ buffer between his head and the very hot pavement. He appears to be very fair skinned in living pics, with thin/ fine head hair. It is possible that the abrasions to the back of his head occurred inadvertently during the CPR attempts at the scene in the Italian restaurant parking lot. There is a presumption that they occurred during Cooper's confinement and death in the carseat, which is also a possibility. I just wanted to present another possibility, FWIW.

    However, it should be quite obvious to the ME whether the abrasions occurred while Cooper's heart was still beating, or whether the abrasions occurred post mortem. We just don't know the official ME answer to that question, yet.

    And another very sad thought-- if the back of the head abrasions occurred while Cooper was alive, with a beating heart, well, then there may be blood evidence on the headrest area of the carseat.

    Just as there may be epidermal and blood evidence under Cooper's fingernails, if the fresh facial scratches were self inflicted.
    Last edited by K_Z; 07-23-2014 at 03:34 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by LJKaust View Post
    Oh the scratches and abrasions make my heart hurt
    Same. I can't...picture. Won't picture.
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.---Patrick Moynihan
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by K_Z View Post
    Regarding the fresh abrasions on the back of Cooper's head, I wanted to point out that he was placed on a very hot parking lot pavement, without any padding or insulation/ buffer between his head and the very hot pavement. He appears to be very fair skinned in living pics, with thin/ fine head hair. It is possible that the abrasions to the back of his head occurred inadvertently during the CPR attempts at the scene in the Italian restaurant parking lot. There is a presumption that they occurred during Cooper's confinement and death in the carseat, which is also a possibility. I just wanted to present another possibility, FWIW.

    However, it should be quite obvious to the ME whether the abrasions occurred while Cooper's heart was still beating, or whether the abrasions occurred post mortem. We just don't know the official ME answer to that question, yet.

    And another very sad thought-- if the back of the head abrasions occurred while Cooper was alive, with a beating heart, well, then there may be blood evidence on the headrest area of the carseat.

    Just as there may be epidermal and blood evidence under Cooper's fingernails, if the fresh facial scratches were self inflicted.
    I would say it happened prior to desth, which would also show bruising. IMO it ws from him banging his head/seizure activity.
    I thought I read no post mortem injuries?

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    Last edited by gngr~snap; 07-23-2014 at 04:04 AM.
    ~ my opinion only

  14. #14
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    "*Stoddard said several injuries were found on the toddler’s body: “Marks on the child’s face. It would have come from the child or a scratch being made while the child was alive and then not healing or scabbing over or anything after that, soon after he passed away.” "There were also abrasions to the back of the boy’s head, according to Stoddard."

    http://www.hlntv.com/article/2014/07...eath-live-blog

    "Abrasion injuries most commonly occur when exposed skin comes into moving contact with a rough surface, causing a grinding or rubbing away of the upper layers of the epidermis."

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrasion_(medical)


    Rubbing his head back and forth against the too short car seat?
    Rubbed the back of his head raw?

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by gngr~snap View Post
    I would say it happened prior to desth, which would also show bruising. IMO it ws from him banging his head/seizure activity.
    I thought I read no post mortem injuries?

    All posts are MOO
    I was in a bad car accident. My Toyota Sequoia was totaled. I was taken to a Level 1 trauma center where I was told that I would have deep tissue bruises show up on my body in the next 2 to 3 weeks which is exactly what happened. Of course, I have much larger body area than CH. I don't know how soon bruises would show on his small body.

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