Estimating TOD...and other homicide...

Discussion in 'Janet Christiansen Abaroa' started by cappuccina, Jun 4, 2005.

  1. cappuccina

    cappuccina Former Member

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    ...investigation info, from the following site:

    http://faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/315/315lect10.htm

    ESTIMATING THE TIME OF DEATH

    There's always going to be at least two (2) estimates of the time of death -- the police department's official estimate (which may or may not be yours) and the Medical Examiner's estimate. Legally, you should be within 4 hours of being accurate, but this is a tough standard even for the best coroners. Remember that, after death, the body starts to cool down to whatever the outside (or room) temperature is. At death, the body starts to drop from it's normal 98.6 degrees by a factor of 3 degrees the first hour and a factor of 1 degree each subsequent hour. Then, after 30 hours, it starts to go up again because of the heat generated by decomposition (but this varies by room or outside temperature, so you need to know weather conditions). The following table illustrates:

    98.6 - time of death
    95.6 - one hour after death
    94.6 - two hours after death
    93.6 - three hours after death
    92.6 - four hours after death
    91.6 - five hours after death
    90.6 - six hours after death
    -------- (to room or outside temp.)
    66.6 - thirty hours after death
    67.6 - thirty-one hours after death
    68.6 - thirty-two hours after death
    69.6 - thirty-three hours after death
    -------- (to room or outside temp.)

    Rigor mortis is also something you should know about. The body is limp until about 5-6 hours after death, then a hardness begins to set in around the jaw area in front of the ear (temporal mandibular joint area). It then spreads throughout the body for a period of time, and then the body goes limp again. The following chart illustrates:

    stiffness in jaw -- 6 hours after death
    stiffness in upper torso -- 12 hours after death
    stiffness in whole body -- 18 hours after death
    limpness returns to body -- 36 hours after death


    Most Serious Stressors (related to committing murder or suicide)

    1. Death of spouse
    2. Divorce
    3. Marital difficulties
    4. Trouble with the law
    5. Death of friend or family
    6. Serious illness or disease
    7. Fired at work
    8. Retirement


    Hmmmm...Raven was affected by 4 of the 8 things above... yikes!

    Last, but not least, something my police and detective/investigator friends have always maintained:

    With homicides, a good rule to follow is make the arrest within 72 hours or the chances of ever making it plummet (Morn 2000).
     
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  3. golfmom

    golfmom Former Member

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    That was an amazing amount of interesting information. 72 hours have come and gone. Wish they'd release SOMETHING!
     
  4. Thinkoflaura

    Thinkoflaura Former Member

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    Two other indicators used for TOD as early as Janet's body was found ( hours vs days) : Livor Mortis, which is the pooling of blood in dependent areas of the body and is measured in increments, and K+ level in the vitreous humor. Liver core temperature is the most accurate, and most common indicator of TOD, but all 3 tests can be done to validate accuracy, along with examination of digestive processes in the stomach and intestines at autopsy. They all work together to form a clinical picture, from what I just read in a book by Cyril Wect.
    ( I hope I am explaining it OK).
     
  5. cappuccina

    cappuccina Former Member

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    ...yanno?
     
  6. Thinkoflaura

    Thinkoflaura Former Member

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    Hopefully the medical examiner read your charts and info was proficient and accurate in determining Janet's TOD. :)

    Another external factor which could come into play would be what state Kaiden was found in. If he was wearing a diaper so dirty that feces was on his clothing and bedding, or was completely soggy with urine, which no mother would leave her infant in when putting him to bed, it leads credence to the idea that she had been dead on the timeline side of the longest TOD.
     
  7. cappuccina

    cappuccina Former Member

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    I just Pray to God that they didn't do something like forget to take the temperature, which would help to botch the TOD determination... :banghead: :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:
     
  8. Thinkoflaura

    Thinkoflaura Former Member

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    2 words: JonBenet Ramsey.
     
  9. newkid

    newkid New Member

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    Hopefully it's such standard practice that they wouldn't forget.
     
  10. OriginalJerseyGirl

    OriginalJerseyGirl CERTIFIED FLYERS FANATIC!

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    That's a good point. But since we're only looking at an approximate window of about 4 hours that Raven was out of the home, I don't know how wet or soiled Kaiden would have been by the time LE arrived. But it's definitely something to consider, and I hope that investigators think to look at stuff like that. I would never even have thought of it had you not mentioned it.
     
  11. newkid

    newkid New Member

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    I wouldn't have thought about it either. That breaks my heart though, that poor little guy.
     
  12. OriginalJerseyGirl

    OriginalJerseyGirl CERTIFIED FLYERS FANATIC!

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    It really is very sad. He was probably lying there asleep, dreaming about Mommy & Daddy, and whatever else such a young baby might dream about. He had no idea, (thank God), but will never know his Mommy. One day she was there, and the next she was gone. And he's too little to understand anything other than "Where did Mommy go"? It is utterly heart-breaking. Like I've said before, I hope that his family will help him to learn about her, and send her kisses at night, etc. It's so very sad for him. :(
     
  13. Timex

    Timex Retired WS Staff

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    Once the blood leaves the body, it would start to seperate. Im trying to remember just how long it takes, but I know it isnt long. The red blood cells would seperate for the white blood cells and plasma, leaving a "yellowish" serium. I know there was a case where a conviction was gained because the husband said he called 911 immediatley, and this seperation showed that there had been a delay in the call.
     
  14. ewwwinteresting

    ewwwinteresting New Member

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    Anybody that is posting here know whether Raven, his family or Janet's family has been told the TOD? Is this something they would release to at least Janet's family or tell nobody until the crime is solved?
     
  15. SewingDeb

    SewingDeb "Sorry, I'm not qualified to land the plane."

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    I don't know, but this link about the backlog doesn't sound good:
    http://www.wxii12.com/news/4583756/...l=gws_12pm&tmi=gws_12pm_1_11000206082005&ts=H
    RALEIGH, N.C. -- There's a backlog of about 50 cases at the state crime lab, and the State Bureau of Investigation's only computer forensic technician says he could use some help.

    Eric Hicks is in such high demand that he handles only murder or child exploitation cases.

    Also, the 17 geneticists have 36,000 DNA samples awaiting analysis and review before they can go into a database. The 19 drug chemists who travel to methamphetamine lab busts have a backlog of 15,000 cases.

    That backlog has delayed trials a year or more, left jails packed with defendants awaiting the lab's work, and a smaller pool of suspects when investigators use the DNA database to try to identify a rapist or killer.
     
  16. OriginalJerseyGirl

    OriginalJerseyGirl CERTIFIED FLYERS FANATIC!

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    SewingDeb, thank you for that link. It seems logical that that same backlog could create a delay in determining suspects as well, wouldn't it?
     
  17. SouthEastSleuth

    SouthEastSleuth New Member

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    I meant to post this yesterday, but somehow forgot.

    I had posted a few days ago about public access to ME reports, etc. Cappuccina kindly gave me all sorts of useful information and guidance in that regard! (Thanks again!)

    I did notice in looking at the website for the NC State Medical Examiner that you can make a request for reports, etc. The statutes state that the guidlines for cases involving homicide are fairly strict. So, instead of using the online form to TRY and request anything, I called over there...

    I spoke with a "helpful" guy who told me that as the case involves an on-going homicide investigation, that the information is not available for public release. Period. I did press a little, and asked if all of the reports were complete, etc., (ok, so it's worth a try! LOL), and he basically cut me off and told me that he could release no information, blah blah blah. He did ask me at the end if I was calling from the media. I said no. I did wonder afterwards if I had in fact been a media source if I would heard anything differently from him.. Who know.

    No big surprise, I know. But, never hurts to ask!

    Just FYI, a link to the ME office:

    http://www.ocme.unc.edu/index.shtml
     
  18. OriginalJerseyGirl

    OriginalJerseyGirl CERTIFIED FLYERS FANATIC!

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    So disguise your voice, and call over there in an hour or so, pretending to be media! LOL! :)

    ETA: You're wonderful, SES. :)
     
  19. SewingDeb

    SewingDeb "Sorry, I'm not qualified to land the plane."

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    For sure. They need to get some help in there. Murderers could be long gone before the results get back.
     
  20. ewwwinteresting

    ewwwinteresting New Member

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    NCBanker: Any luck with info from your relative? If you give me their name and number, I'll call :) :crazy: Exactly how long does it take, I wonder, for the test results to come back to establish TOD and other pertinent information?
     
  21. OriginalJerseyGirl

    OriginalJerseyGirl CERTIFIED FLYERS FANATIC!

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    Kevin J. Mahoney-Murder Cases Autopsy

    Determining the Time of Death

    The time of death can, with variable accuracy, be estimated by determining:
    1. the temperature of the body and the rate of cooling;
    2. the degree of postmortem lividity (hypostasis);
    3. the degree of rigor mortis;
    4. putrefaction;
    5. insect activity; and,
    6. analyzing stomach contents...

    The normal temperature of a living person is 98.6°. During first hour following death, the body temperature will drop 2° to 3° F. Thereafter, the body temperature will fall 1° to 1.5° per hour, for up to 18 hours...

    Rigor Mortis is the stiffening of the muscles caused by chemical changes occurring in the body following death; Every muscle in the body undergoes rigor mortis. Stiffening begins within two to five hours after death. The entire body will be rigid within 12 to 18 hours of death. Thereafter, rigor mortis begins to dissipate and, within another 18 hours, the rigor mortis will disappear and the body will, again, resume a relaxed state. Rigor mortis should not be confused with cadaver spasms, which may cause stiffening of the body immediately following death...
    __________________________________________________________________

    So I'm thinking that if EMT's find a victim, and the body seems stiff but the temperature is near "normal" of 98.6, they can assume that the victim has recently passed away. If the stiffness were due to rigor mortis, the temperature would probably be somewhere between 3 degrees cooler (usually 95.6) and 9 degrees cooler (usually 89.6). Of course, "normal" body temperature varies from person to person and certain conditions can make cooling occur more slowly or quickly. But when we combine a stiff body whose temperature is near the average normal in normal circumstances (room temperature, appropriate clothing for the temperature, etc.), we can assume that we are not witnessing rigor mortis, and that the victim died less than two hours prior. When we combine other factors, such as how fluid or tacky blood might be, it seems that TOD can be pinpointed pretty closely in certain instances.
     

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