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burning. Especially is this the case in infanticides (see IDENTITY, Vol. I., p. 408 et seq.; TIME OF DEATH, Vol. I., p. 452 et seq.).
AUTOPSIES OF FRAGMENTS.
These cases are usually cases of murder in the perpetration of which the criminal has mutilated the body with a view to destroying all traces of identity.
The importance which attaches to autopsies of fragments rests upon the fact that parts of a body may be found widely separated, and that one portion may be found before the others. In such cases it will be necessary to determine if they belong to one and the same body. The examination is conducted chiefly with a view to establishing this.
The examiner must note the manner in which the fragment has been separated; whether it is clean cut, as by one who understood something of anatomy, or, whether it has been separated roughly and by one ignorant of the body structure. The determination of this point will be one link in the chain of evidence which may lead to the detection of the criminal, or the acquittal of one accused. An anatomist or a butcher would be likely to cut through at a joint, and to do it neatly. The exact point at which the severance has taken place should be noted. The place of finding, the circumstances under which found, the condition and general appearance of the fragment should all be carefully recorded. The color of the skin will indicate with some accuracy the race to which the individual belonged. The probable sex may be determined by the presence or absence of hair, and the general conformation. This, however, will not apply in the case of children. The probable age may be fixed upon from the size and degree of development of the fragment. The cut surface should be carefully described, and if possible a drawing should be made of it.
There are special considerations which apply to certain parts of the body.
The Head.—The exact point of severance should be recorded. The number of vertebræ which remain attached to the head should be counted, and if the section pass through a vertebra, its number and the amount of it missing should be stated. The sex will be apparent in all instances; the race may be determined both by the color of the skin and by the shape of the head; the age may be approximated, though care must be had in expressing an opinion, for the manner of living is well. known to affect the appearance of age. Evidence of violence prior to death should be noted, and the presence or absence of fractures ascertained; also observe the color of the hair and whether it be thin or abundant; the presence or absence of beard or mustache, and if present the color; and the color of
The Arm.-The following points should be determined : the color of the skin as indication of race; the probable sex from its shape and general conformation; the probable age from its size and degree of development; marks of any kind, such as tattooing; and deformities, such as signs of old or recent fracture, or dislocation; and supernumerary fingers.
The Leg.-- The examination of the leg should be conducted in much the same manner as that of the arm.
The Trunk.-An examination of the trunk will reveal the race, sex, and probable age, and may give evidence as regards the manner in which the deceased came to his or her death. Any marks or deformities should be recorded, and in all cases. the viscera should be examined.
After making a medico-legal autopsy, it will be necessary for the medical examiner to draw up a report of his findings, and the conelusions based thereon. The report should be clear and concise, and the language such as a coroner's jury can understand. Technical terms should be avoided, and when their employment is necessary they should be explained in the margin or in parentheses.
The report should be drawn up in somewhat the following manner:
1. When and under what circumstances the body was first seen; stating hour of day, day of week and month.
2. When deceased was last seen living, or known to be alive.
The facts upon which the following statements are based have been largely drawn from Taylor. See
Stevenson's Taylor, vol. i.,p. 204 et seq.
3. Any circumstances that would lead to a suspicion of suicide or murder.
4. Time after death at which the examination was made, if it can be ascertained.
5. The external appearance of the body: whether the surface is livid or pallid.
6. State of countenance.
7. Any marks of violence on the person, disarrangement of the dress, blood-stains, etc.
8. Presence or absence of warmth in the legs, abdomen, arms, armpits, or mouth.
9. Presence or absence of rigor mortis.
To give any value to this point it is necessary for the witness to observe the nature of the substance upon which the body is lying; whether the body be clothed or naked, young or old, fat or emaciated. These conditions materially influence the rapidity of cooling and the onset of rigor mortis.
10. Upon first opening the body the color of the muscles should be noted. Carbon monoxide poisoning causes them to be of a cherry-red color.
11. The condition of the blood and its color.
12. The state of the abdominal viscera, describing each one in the order in which it is removed (see p. 370). If the stomach and intestines are inflamed the seat of the inflammation should be exactly specified; also all evidences of softening, ulceration, effusion of blood, corrosion, or perforation. The presence of hardened fæces in the rectum will bear evidence that no purging occurred immediately before death.
13. The state of the heart and lungs. (For special consideration of the lungs in cases of suspected infanticide, see Vol. II.; and of persons drowned, see Vol. I., p. 805 et seq.).
14. The state of the brain and spinal cord.
After a thorough consideration of the results of the exam. ination, conclusions must be drawn from this examination; never from the statements of others. The conclusions commonly relate to whether death was due to natural or unnatural causes; if to unnatural causes, what are the facts which lead the examiner to this opinion. As the conclusions are intended to form a summary of the whole report, they must be brief and tersely stated.
THE METHODS USED FOR ITS DETERMINATION IN THE
DEAD AND LIVING.
IRVING C. ROSSE, A.M., M.D., F.R.G.S. (Eng.), Professor of Nerrous Diseases, Georgetown University; Membre du
Congrès International d'Anthropologie Criminelle, etc.