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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Oakland, CA
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    Do healthy women really just drown in their own bathtubs?

    Contrary to what you sometimes here about "accidents in the home" and the dangers of the family bathtub, tubs do not pose a significant threat except to the very young and people with seizure-type disorders or people using large amounts of depressant drugs or alcohol. But the idea of the "deadly bathtub" seems to make it a clever staging ground for men who want to secretly kill their wives.

    There is a case under investigation right now in Illinois. No charges have been filed. But a leading forensic examiner believes that an earlier autopsy of the third wife of Drew Peterson--already under a cloud of suspicion in the mystery disappearance of his fourth and current wife, Stacy--came to mistaken conclusions. At the time, Kathleen Savio's death was simply passed over as an accidental drowning in the bathtub. Now, it appears that she was murdered. Her death has been officially declared a homicide, following exhumation and a new autopsy (backed up by a third autopsy done at the behest of Savio's relatives by former New York City medical examiner Michael Baden).

    There are two important things to know about this "drowning in the bathtub" business. First of all, it is very difficult for an autopsy to clearly determine drowning as a cause of death. The leading forensic medical textbooks make this quite clear. "Investigation of a body recovered from water can be challenging," writes Dr. Werner Spitz in the widely-used textbook he authored on death investigation. "Autopsy findings alone may be misleading and can cause the inexperienced pathologist to render a diagnosis of drowning when inappropriate."

    As Dr. Baden told Greta van Susteren, speaking about the Savio case, "Healthy adults don't drown in bathtubs accidentally."

    To make a long and gruesome story short, the forensic autopsy needs to rule out everything else before reaching a finding of "drowning," much less "accidental drowning." While someone might be found dead in a bathtub, even with water in their lungs, it is vital to determine whether or not they had been knocked unconscious, drugged, or simply held under water until they succumbed. Dr. Baden states that Savio had been viciously beaten with bruises still visible on her body even upon exhumation, and had clear signs of a lacerated scalp.

    Nevertheless, coroners may rely too heavily on "initial impressions" of a first responder who reports a dead person in a bathtub and fail to to do a thorough autopsy.
    Last edited by adnoid; 05-09-2008 at 04:59 PM. Reason: No advertising

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    4,778
    My (now grown) daughter's 2nd grade teacher "drowned" in her bathtub. This was about 1976. The teacher, Betty Spencer, was going through a divorce at the time. Her husband was a Presbyterian minister, and was supposedly involved with another woman. I NEVER believed this was an accident! Now I'm CONVINCED it was no accident!

    A few months ago I watched one of those CTV crime shows, perhaps it was Forensic Files, or something similar. There was another case of the wife of a Presbyterian minister who "drowned" in the bathtub. Her husband, the minister, was also having an affair. I believe he was convicted of murdering her.

    It seemed like such an odd coincidence that two Presbyterian ministers would have the same thing happen. It made me wonder of this 2nd one heard about the Spencer case through church connections and decided to copy cat the crime, since Spencer got away with it.

    I heard that one of the reasons it is so impossible to accidently drown in the tub, is that it first of all is difficult to fill the tub full enough without the water going into the overflow drain. Then if you are totally relaxed, like passed out, your head doesn't sink if you are lying on your back. Don't know about that. Have not tried it.

    ETA: Oh yeah, forgot to mention that the teacher's "accident" happened during Easter break, so my dau. had a substitute for the rest of the year. It really upset her, because as a 7 yr. old, she worshipped her teacher!

  3. #3
    Marilee,

    I see this is your first post on Websleuths. Welcome!

    You will like it here.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    heaven bound
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jolynna View Post
    Marilee,

    I see this is your first post on Websleuths. Welcome!

    You will like it here.

    I second that. Welcome.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    CITY OF BROTHERLY SHOVE
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    That nutter Craig Rabinowitz said his wife Stefanie drowned in their tub as well. He evn had a glass of wine in there with her and said she supposedly took some benzodiazapan's I think. He went into how he got her out of the tub only guess what? No puddles of water and his clothes weren't wet. That and his affair with a stripper named Summer. I'm a tub person. I love soakingin the tub. I've never fallen asleep or anything in it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    san diego
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    Welcome, Marilee, and thank you for a thought-provoking first post.

    Didn't Rabinowitz kill 2 or 3 wives?

  7. #7
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    Jun 2007
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    CITY OF BROTHERLY SHOVE
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    Quote Originally Posted by absinthe View Post
    Welcome, Marilee, and thank you for a thought-provoking first post.

    Didn't Rabinowitz kill 2 or 3 wives?
    No, Absinthe, just his one and only wife. His wife was an Attorney and they had a little baby girl. Rabinowitz was doing all kinds of underhanded dealings with his wife's money. Mainly keeping an exotic dancer from here in style. Interestingly enough he professed his love for "Summer" even behind bars. Not to get off topic, but I went to find you a link, and I found this. "Breathless" a production that features dancers as Rabinowitz, Tom Capano, and Scott Peterson and dancer's as their wives/girlfriends. I wonder if Ttrachel knows anything about this choreographer as she's a dancer. http://www.ruddydance.org/events/lin...ss1_11_08.html

  8. #8
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    Sep 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by White Rain View Post
    I second that. Welcome.
    Pardon my manners! Welcome also. Good post.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Texas
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    Welcome to our new member!!
    You are right, Kathleen most likely didn't drown of her own accord in her dry bathtub.

    I remember a case on " Cold Case Files", the A and E show, not the CBS one, where a husband was convicted of murder in his wife's drowning because she was found with her rings and watch on. He forcibly held her under the water until she drowned.
    Ever since then, for some strange reason, I have made certain to wear my waterproof watch and my rings while bathing..... Her case really touched me, as has Kathleen's. If not for Stacey's disappearance, I doubt anything would ever have come to light about the woman she hated, her lover's wife, then ex- wife, Kathleen.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    1,160
    I do personally know of one person that died/drowned in a bathtub. She was a lifelong epileptic. She took a bath while her fiance wasn't home, went under at some point and didn't come back up. We're talking a regular bathtub (I've been in the house). But I do agree, VERY rare.


  11. #11
    Two 22 year-olds drowned in a bathtub near Ohio University last Saturday. This link has the 911 call and a link to his facebook. They are a cute couple.

    http://www.wsaz.com/news/headlines/18550659.html

    Police say there were no signs of foul play but it will be 8 weeks until all the autopsy results are in.

  12. #12
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    Sep 2003
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    That doesn't sound accidental to me. And I can't imagine suicide. Interesting to see the results of the tox screen.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    128
    My cousin use to fall asleep in the bathtub while taking baths and it never harmed her. In fact, she use to joke about it. I agree, if you have a seizure disorder or if you are on depressants where reaction time is slow or if you have a stroke or a heart attack, you may not be able to lift your head above the water. But, Kathleen Savio was clearly beaten.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pepper View Post
    That doesn't sound accidental to me. And I can't imagine suicide. Interesting to see the results of the tox screen.
    I agree about it not sounding accidental... But I do think it sounds like a suicide pact...
    I found Kelly's myspace - and the title says: " Dying is the day worth living for"

    http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm...ndid=133833215

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Posts
    1
    My oldest sister drowned in a bathtub in 2011, in California. She was living with her then boyfriend at the time. At first her case, and I say that as gently as possible, because sadly she was just a case, was thought to have been an accident. Her boyfriend at the time was a Physician Assistant ( PA). He led authorities and medical responders to believe it was an accident. Finally, after years of investigating, her then boyfriend was arrested and charged with my sisters death. Bathtub Drowning deaths are extremely difficult, because police and detectives aren't trained well in that area, like they are with say, shooting deaths. I've learned how little training there is in aquatic drownings, since my sister's death. Thankfully, there are now experts in aquatic drownings, training our police, investigators and medical responders, so they know what to look for.
    Fact is, a healthy person cannot drown in a bathtub if they are not under the influence of any substance. If you were to fall asleep in a bathtub and slipped under water, you have an automatic reflex and reaction to respond and will wake up. I've learned alot through my sister's death, through research and expert opinions.
    Bathtub drownings use to be extremely difficult to prove, but with the excellent, experienced experts and training, today's technology and testing, it's become easier to detect and prove.
    Thankfully, in my sister's situation, her then boyfriend lost his PA license and was charged with her death, of First Degree Murder. We are just barely headed to trial this month after 6 long years of waiting and praying for justice for my beautiful sister. It's been a long, difficult road to get to this point, but thankfully her death wasn't overlooked and ruled as an accident. Because of today's testing and experts recognizing the signs, we are convinced there will be justice for my sister Rhonda.

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