The Truth... What is it?


So that you might get a glimpse at a case example of what forensic pathologists are involved in through coroner's or medical examiner's autopsies, the following collection is offered. Check out the page and its link concerning cause and manner of death so that you can evaluate the following case.

A female is found dead in bed, naked, in about December 1970. A neighbor came by and smelled an odor of decomposition and called police. A side-porch door was closed but unlocked. A pocket book was beside her bed, credit cards in it, but no cash. She turned out to be a 25 y/o airline stewardess. There was no suicide note or any witness recollection of depression or suicidal discussions.

INVESTIGATIVE CONCERN: young, attractive, single, female dead with a negative medical history...rule out foul play.

INITIAL AUTOPSY FINDINGS: negative; no one noticed any odd skin color; no cause of sudden natural death found, and no evidence of rape or strangulation...but body moderately decomposed.


NOTE: pathologist reviewed formalin container in which her tissue biopsies were stored and noted reddish coloration of tissue had unexpectedly persisted. Carbon monoxide test on blood showed lethal levels. Home inspection revealed a vented gas space heater in her bedroom which had been previously noted. Sadly, it was found to have been vented not quite to a proper roof height so that unusual breezes for several hours could cause a down-draft that filled her room with lethal levels of carbon monoxide.

CERTIFICATION: what is the cause, manner, and mechanism of death? check it out

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(posted July 24 1998)