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of other animals. The tracks of a dog or of a horse may become the object of a medico-legal inquest. The books record a case in which it was necessary to ascertain whether a bite had been made by a large or a small dog. This question was settled by producing the dogs and comparing their teeth with the scars. Persons familiar with border life know the importance of trails and the minute observation that is brought to bear on them by the experienced frontiersman. In following cattle-thieves and murderers, while with the Fourth United States Cavalry on the Rio Grande frontier, I have known the peculiarity of a horse's footprint in the prairie to tell a tale of great significance.

Observation in this respect may extend to such apparently trivial objects as the tracks of wheels, as those of a wagon, a wheelbarrow, or a bicycle, or to the singular imprints left by crutches or a walking-stick. The imprint left in the ground by a cane usually occurs in the remarkable order of every two and a half or every four and a half steps. Investigation of such circumstances may result in material facts that may be of great assistance in establishing the relation of one or several persons with some particular act.


The existence of deformities or injuries is so apparent in serving to establish identity that it seems almost superfluous to mention them, except for the purpose of deciding whether the wounds were made during life or after death. In the matter of gunshot wounds on persons who took part in the late Civil War, many of whom unfortunately belong to the vagrant class and are often found dead, their wounds sometimes afford excellent means of identification. In many instances the multiple character of these wounds is almost incredible. When on duty at the Army Medical Museum, in connection with the preparation of the “Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion," I saw a man who was literally wounded from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, the scars being fiftytwo in number.

WOUNDS MADE DURING LIFE might show the suggillation peculiar to bruises or traces of inflammation. Besides, the gaping nature of the lips of the wound, the fact of hemorrhage

having taken place and the coagulation of the blood, the infiltration of blood into the cellular tissue, etc., are surgical facts that would leave but little doubt as to the infliction of the wounds during life.

The cause of death is often a difficult matter to determine, as it may have been accidental, suicidal, or the result of homicide. The causes relating thereto are, moreover, so many and varied that space and time compel a reference to other headings of this work. In forming an opinion as to the probable date of death the extent of putrefaction is the chief guide. If death is quite recent, we may be guided by the post-mortem rigidity or the extent to which the body has cooled. The march of putrefactive decomposition would, of course, be regulated by circumstances. It takes place very rapidly in persons who have succumbed to excessive fatigue or to any disassimilative excesses or derangement resulting in ante-mortem change of the tissues, such as those occurring in virulent or infectious diseases. The body of an infant decays more rapidly that that of an adult. The course of putrefactive phenomena is also influenced by the seasons, the extent of the exposure to air, and to other mesological causes. There is a manifest difference in the special putrefactive change accordingly as a body is buried in the earth, submerged in a fluid, thrown into a cesspool, or buried in a dung-heap.

In certain cases, especially where the body has been much mutilated, it may be desirable to know whether there was one or several murderers. While no definite rule can be laid down on this point, we are justified in supposing that there were two or more assassins when the body of the victim shows both gunshot and knife wounds, or that two persons were concerned in the dismemberment and mutilation of a body which shows the simultaneous presence of parts skilfully cut, while others show evident awkwardness.

Where there is more than one mortal wound on the same dead body, a question of medico-legal significance may arise. This occurred in the Burton murder case at Newport, R. I., in 1885, which gave rise to discussion of the following abstract question: "Whether it is possible for an individual, with suicidal intent, and in quick succession, to inflict a perforating shot of the head and another of the chest implicating the heart. Or, reversing the proposition, is it incredible that a person bent on self-destruction can, with his own hand, shoot himself in the heart and in the head?”

After consideration of the case referred to and reversal of the previous decision of the coroner, the supposed suicide proved to be a homicide. Yet if the abstract question of possibilities is alone regarded, there is no doubt of the fact that a suicide could shoot himself in such manner, both in the head and the heart, or, changing the order, of shots in the heart and in the head. The number of cases recorded establishes beyond a doubt the feasibility of the self-infliction of two such wounds, and make it clear that the theory of suicide may be maintained in such circumstances.'


Of late years the subject of anthropometric identification has taken such a place before justice that it cannot be ignored by the medical legist. The facts of scientific anthropology have here been applied in such a way as to establish with great certainty both the present and future identity of individuals who attempt dissimulation of their name and antecedents. The method used principally in the identification of criminals and deserters from the army has been adopted in the public service and by most municipalities, with the exception of New York, where the subsequent identification of persons connected with municipal affairs has been and may be a source of no little embarrassment.

The system is based on three recognitory elements : photog. raphy, anthropometric measurements, and personal markings, from which a descriptive list is made that gives absolute certainty as to individual identity.

Owing to the illusory nature of photography and the difficulty in finding the portrait of any given individual in the large and constantly increasing collection of a “rogues' gallery," the matter has been simplified and facilitated by grouping the photographic collection according to the six anthropological coefficients of sex, stature, age, and color of the eyes. Each of these primordial groups is again subdivided in such a way as to reduce the last group to a small number, when the portrait is easily found and verified on comparing the measurements of the head, of the extended arms, the length of the left foot, and that of the left middle finger.

1 See Annual of the Universal See paragraph II., General OTMedical Sciences, 1888, vol. v., pp. ders No. 33,* Adjutant-General's 143-147.

Office, April 1st, 1889.

The photographic proof for each individual consists of two portraits side by side, one of which is taken full face, the other in profile of the right side. On the back of the photographic card is recorded with rigorous precision all personal markings or peculiarities.

The measurements, which can be made by any person of average intelligence in three or four minutes, are extremely simple. The right ear is always measured, for the reason that this organ is always reproduced in the traditional photograph which represents the right face. Other special measurements are taken on the left side. The height sitting, dimensions and character of the nose, color of eyes, etc., are also noted.

It is contended that by these measurements alone the identity of an individual whose face is not even known may be established in another country by telegraph. The application of the system has proved of great service in the apprehension of deserters from the United States army (when the authorities have been able to find the card), while it is claimed to have caused the disappearance of numerous dissimulators of identity in the prisons of Paris. The police authorities of that city report that out of more than five hundred annual recognitions by the foregoing means, not one mistake has yet occurred.'

To avoid a possible source of error mensuration of the organs and the ascertainment of their form may be resorted to in the case of a cadaver that is much decayed, or in one that has been purposely mutilated or burned by the assassin in order to prevent recognition. A sufficient number of cases may be cited in which the measurement of a limb or a bone of a deceased person known to have been lame or deformed during life has resulted in the establishment of identity or the reverse.

A mistake may be prevented in the case of supposed mutilation of a drowned body, which may have been caused by the

1 In 1892 only three failures are recorded.

screw of a passing steamer. Other errors may result from carelessness, incorrect observation of signs, and neglect to follow the ordinary precautions that should obtain in all researches on identity of the dead body.

Certain circumstances indicative of the mental state of the culprit may throw light on the identity. A person of unsound mind would certainly be suggested as the perpetrator of such a deed as that of the woman already mentioned, who after killing and cutting up her infant, cooked portions of the remains with cabbage and served them at a meal of which she herself partook. Equally conclusive should be the inference in the case cited by Maudsley of a person who, for no ascertainable motive, kills a little girl, mutilates her remains, and carefully records the fact in his note-book, with the remark that the body was hot and good.

The handwriting left by the assassin might also furnish a strong presumption as to the existence of a mental lesion, since the writing of the insane is often characteristic, especially in the initial stage of dementia. I recall the case of a former patient, an aphasic, imprisoned for having stabbed a man in the abdomen and for having wounded his wife in such a way that her arm had to be amputated. Having lost the power to express himself phonetically, this man used a book and pencil, but his writing showed a degree of agraphia which alone would establish his identity beyond a doubt.

While it is quite possible that dishonest transactions, and even theft, may take place by telephone and the voices of the perpetrators may be unmistakable between distant cities, it is more likely that the phonographic registration of speech or other sound by means of a gramophone should become a matter of medico-legal investigation and a possible means that may lend great assistance in establishing personal identity. Although no precedent may be cited, it is not going into the domain of theoretical hypothesis to mention a discovery of such real scientific certainty that for years after death, and thousands of miles away, gives an indefinite number of reproductions that cannot possibly be mistaken by any one familiar with the voice before it had become “Edisonized.” Some gramophone disks lately shown me from Germany registered greetings and messages to relatives in Washington, who were

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